Compared to conventional fabrication methods, 3D bioprinting is an increasingly popular method of bioscaffold fabrication because of its reproducibility, better control of pore sizes, morphology and matrix porosity. However, poor printability, cell viability, high cost and issues associated with animal protein-based bio-inks continue to plague and limit 3D bioprinting applications.
The Singapore health-focus SME that extracts health from nature has developed the world's only plant-derived bio-ink through extracting and purifying plant proteins from food processing byproducts such as spent grains (e.g. corn, malt, barley).
The plant proteins are formulated with synthetic polymers such as polycaprolactone (PCL) to create a uniquely first PPC bio-ink. Proven to be printable, the PPC bio-ink may be further customised in terms of viscosity, mechanical strength and biodegradation rate to meet the requirements of different 3D bio-printers. In addition, the bio-ink's natural bioactive properties make it highly conducive for cell growth while being sustainable and cost-efficient.
Together with its PPC bio-ink, the Singapore company has also developed a novel electrohydrodynamic jetting (EHDJ) scaffold printing methodology, which enables the precise, 3D printing of PPC bioscaffolds featuring multi-layers, a large surface area and small, controllable pore sizes of up to sub-micron scale with porosity of >90%. The PPC bioscaffold has been demonstrated to enhance cell attachment and proliferation, and also feature a tunable biodegradation profile that can be monitored in vivo, in real time and non-invasively.
In particular, the encapsulation properties of the PPC bio-ink allows encapsulated bioactives to be released in a controlled manner as the bioscaffold biodegrades, making it ideal for therapeutic applications such as advanced wound dressings.
With high customisability, the potential applications of 3D printed bioscaffolds include:
- Therapeutic applications e.g. wound dressing with controlled-release of medicine embedded in the scaffold
- Tissue engineering applications
- Regenerative medicine applications
- 3D cell cultures for drug discovery and development
- Tumour tissue model for cancer research
The Singapore SME seeks the following types of partnerships with MNEs or SMEs of all sizes:
i) Licensing agreement where the partner could license the technology and further develop it to introduce it to its customers.
ii) Commercial agreement with technical assistance where the Singapore SME would provide support in the bioprinting of 3D scaffolds.