A trio of high-tech companies have teamed up to develop a space hardened 3D bioprinter capable of manufacturing human organs and tissues in orbit. A June 14 test of the consortium’s prototype resulted in the first successful printing of cardiac and vascular structures in zero gravity with adult human stem cells. The experiment was performed 30,000 feet over the Gulf of Mexico aboard a Zero Gravity Corporation aircraft capable of repeatedly producing several seconds of sustained microgravity.
Led by longtime NASA contractor Techshot Inc. – along with nScrypt Inc., a manufacturer of industrial 3D bioprinters and electronics printers, and bioink developer Bioficial Organs Inc. – the effort could result in the ability to manufacture transplantable organs in space for patients on earth, and help enable long-duration human exploration of deep space.
“The hardware worked flawlessly,” said Techshot Executive Vice President and COO John Vellinger, who was aboard the aircraft and helped operate the printer in weightlessness. “We’re eager to take the technology to the next level.”