TAP’s First Project to Automate Manufacture of 3D Tissue Constructs
News Jun 10, 2009
The Automation Partnership (TAP) has announced it is collaborating with world leading academics on the prestigious, Technology Strategy Board funded, RAFT (Rapid Automated Fabrication of Tissues) Project to develop and commercialize novel technology for production of 3D tissues, which have the potential to transform drug discovery and regenerative medicine.
The three-year RAFT Project initially aims to manufacture 3D human corneal tissue using corneal limbal stem cells, to determine if this is a viable method of producing a range of different tissue types. Scientists on the RAFT Project at UCL (University College London) will work on demonstrating pre-clinical proof of concept of the efficacy of these tissues for corneal regeneration.
Complex 3D tissues can be produced in less than one hour by mixing cells with collagen, casting the gel into a mould then compressing it to give a sheet with properties very like natural tissue. The 3D structure provides cells with a more natural microenvironment; multiple layers with different cell types can be made with surface features that mimic the stem cell niche and support cell growth and differentiation.
Since production of the tissues will be automated the size, shape, thickness and cell density can all be controlled - and complex features such as capillary like channels can be engineered into the tissues. This technology allows high quality and consistent manufacturing of tissues for therapeutic use, such as replacement skin; in cell biology by providing 3D collagen matrices for studying cell behavior or in drug discovery applications including toxicity testing by generating skin, cornea and other models.
Dr Rosemary Drake, CSO at TAP stated: “We are delighted to be working with eminent academics to commercialize this unique tissue fabrication process. We have licensed the use of this exciting technology from UCL because we are so confident it could be used to produce a number of different 3D tissue types and are seeking additional partners from pharmaceutical or cell culture companies with whom we can develop cell culture, drug discovery and therapeutic applications where more authentic tissues are required.”
David Newble, TAP’s CEO, added: “The significant industrial academic collaboration which has begun between TAP and UCL will make transformational science available for rapid, reproducible processing of commercially important tissues and could potentially, have a major impact on the future of drug discovery, development and regenerative medicine.”