Funded by the US Defense Health Program, 4-Dimensional Bioprinting, Biofabrication, and Biomanufacturing (4D Bio3 ) is a collaboration between the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS ) and The Geneva Foundation , a nonprofit that advances military medical research. The program promotes the application and development of biofabrication, biomanufacturing, and bioprinting technologies for research according to priorities by the US Department of Defense. 4D Bio3 is involved with medical research in outer space , and also much closer to home .
4D Bio3 is currently working with the foundation, Safi Biosolutions, Advanced Bioprocess Services, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Sciperio – the research arm of Florida 3D printing company nScrypt – to make human blood on demand. Yes, you read that correctly.
Through USUHS, the DoD and The Geneva Foundation set up the 4D Bio3 On-Demand Blood Program in order to provide access to fresh, non-contaminated blood supplies for military service members all over the world. The goal of this current partnership with Sciperio is to create solutions for future blood supply, and on-demand manufacturing of human blood seems to be the best way.
Together with Safi Biosolutions, the company received a joint award of $8.8 million to fund any contributions they make to the program in its first year. The overall goal for the program’s inaugural year is to create a “whole blood development roadmap,” and Sciperio’s part will be to develop a rugged, automated bioreactor that offers control and feedback in real-time thanks to multiple sensors. Sciperio spinoff nScrypt, which designs and manufactures highly precise, next-generation, award-winning microdispensing and 3D printing systems for industrial applications , will be building the bioreactor.
“How do you manufacture blood at a scale relevant for patient use? We are using several nScrypt SmartPump tool heads to precisely microdispense growth enhancers in the bioreactor, causing cell expansion and differentiation. The bioreactor makes it scalable,” explained Dr. Ken Church, the CEO of both Sciperio and nScrypt. “There are so many interesting aspects and advantages of biomanufacturing blood, including the ultimate benefit to humanity. Starting with a few cells, our bioreactor will produce billions of cells, a necessary requirement for patient transfusion. We believe this exciting project will one day result in a steady source of safe and affordable on-demand blood made where and when it’s needed.”
The nScrypt SmartPump microdispensing tool head works with over 10,000 commercially available materials – the widest range of any microdispensing system. The SmartPump “eliminates drooling with pico-liter volumetric control,” according to nScrypt, and at just 10 microns, its pen tip has the smallest available diameter on the commercial market.
If this project succeeds, and the team is able to additively manufacture human red blood cells on-site that are safe for human transfusion, there will be less need for concern relating to donor blood screening. The solution could mean that extensive donor networks are not as necessary, which can help streamline logistics in terms of blood transportation, processing, and long-term storage. This would be especially helpful for members of the military stationed in remote areas who can’t easily access these services.
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(Images provided by nScrypt)