A pair of Israeli companies are claiming to have successfully tested a stem cell 3-D printer in the lab. The feasibility study convinced the partners that viable stem cells can be created in a modified 3-D printer, prompting them to begin preparations to set up a company to advance the technology.
Nano Dimension ($NNDM), an Israeli developer of 3-D printers, plus associated software and nanomaterials, ran the feasibility study after working with Accellta to refine the technology. Accellta, which develops 3-D suspension culture systems for human stems cells, provided biology expertise to the alliance. By pairing these capabilities, the partners are claiming to have developed technology that overcomes the shortcomings of existing printers of living cells.
“For the field to evolve further, there is a need to improve printing speeds, print resolution, cell control and viability as well as cell availability and bio-ink technologies,” Nano Dimension CEO Amit Dror said in a statement. “By combining our high speed, high precision inkjet capabilities with Accellta’s stem cell suspension technologies and induced differentiation capabilities … we can enable 3-D printing at high resolution and high volumes.”
Nano Dimension outlined the implications of the study in a statement to the Tel Aviv stock exchange, sparking a 17% jump in its share price. The next step is to consider how best to advance technology that is outside of the core areas of focus at both Accellta and Nano Dimension. One option is to spin out the technology into a new company focused squarely on the 3-D printing of stem cells. Neither company plans to invest significant capital in further development of the technology.
Whether anyone else will be willing to depends, in part, on whether the technology represents the significant advance claimed by Nano Dimension. The Israeli 3-D printing player sees the technology enabling the creation of large, complex tissues and organs. In doing so, it could support changes to how drugs are tested prior to the start of clinical trials. Other companies, such as Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) partner Organovo ($ONVO), are already working to realize this vision.