Bioprinting will save pharmaceutical industry billions and deliver safer drugs, faster

April 4, 2018 With a 12% success rate for drugs entering clinical trials, there is no doubt that drug companies need more accurate prediction platforms to help them save billions in bringing a drug to market. 3D cellular models, such as spheroids, organoids and organ-on-chips, offer a promising solution to this issue. But how can these models be built at the complexity and scale needed for pharma? Bioprinting’s ability for increased complexity and automation is the clear answer.

Today, Allevi Inc announced a co-authored paper with Dr. Anthony Atala, Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) and featured on TED, describing the potential of bioprinting to improve drug testing. “Bioprinted organoids can potentially provide significant benefits to drug companies and patients alike,” said Atala. “More accurate and faster testing brings new drugs to market sooner, and the possibility of engineering tumors in the lab from a patient’s own cells means patients can get the best therapy right away – without time spent taking therapies that won’t work for them.”

One of the unique aspects this revolutionary technology provides is the ability to achieve complex geometries that more accurately mimic the human body. For example, printed heart cells patterned in lines mimicking how they are found in the body behave much more like the real heart than 2D models of heart cells randomly dispersed in a dish.

This higher performance provides for much more accurate drug testing. More accurate testing allows pharmaceutical companies to fail earlier in the drug development process, saving companies from lengthy, expensive clinical trials and preventing patients from exposure to potentially harmful drugs. Bioprinting not only allows for the complexity needed to create these models but can also automate the process, saving time and increasing reproducibility.

When these models are made with a patient’s own cells, they have even more potential to revolutionize not only general drug development but also personalized medicine. For example, these models could have huge implications in terms of cancer treatment by using a patient’s own tumor cells to test a personalized therapy. These types of models have potential to help develop drugs tailored to a specific patient and could allow doctors to test a therapy on a personalized model before exposing the patient to potential harm.

As Dr. Aleksandra Skardal, Assistant Professor at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and who is not an author on this publication, describes, “Bioprinting has been often regarded primarily as a way to create tissues and organoids for therapeutic uses such as transplantation in patients. But as the authors describe in this publication, this technology could be incredibly valuable for the pharmaceutical industry and in the clinic by supporting automated deposition of large numbers of microphysiological systems, or microtissues, for high throughput drug screening.”

The ability for bioprinting as a platform to accurately capture the design of several different tissues types is extremely powerful. Margaret Prendergast, Director of Bioengineering and Pharmaceutical Development, explains “Bioprinted organ-on-a-chip models demonstrate enhanced biological relevance in a variety of tissues, such as the heart, liver, brain and lung. There is huge potential for these models to revolutionize the way we test and develop medicine.”

Ricky Solorzano, CEO of Allevi, “Bioprinting solutions have an immense potential to offer automation, increased complexity, and personalization in a host of different ways. Allevi’s solutions are gearing up to solve to some of pharma’s biggest problems and we are excited to begin working together.”