Large-Scope Bioprinting in Microgravity

PI: Lawrence Harvey, Center for Applied Space Technology

The Large-Scope Bioprinting in Microgravity project is a suborbital flight test of a bioprinter prototype as proof of concept for a full scale, commercial bioprinting facility hosted at a future low-Earth orbit facility (e.g. the International Space Station). Bioprinting in microgravity could allow for the large-scale production of multiple cell types more efficiently than on Earth. Researchers aim to test print basic 3D structures to examine the quality of the product and the functionality of the hardware.

Technology Areas (?)
  • NA
Problem Statement

Bioprinting has begun to revolutionize the field of medical research by enabling the mass production of 3D biomimetic cell culture models. Driving this revolution is the development of new types of biomaterials known as bioinks. A thickening agent is often utilized within bioink formulations which can impact cell viability. Bioprinting in microgravity addresses this limitation by allowing the use of lower viscosity bioinks at relevant protein concentrations for a specific tissue. In addition, microgravity stem cell cultures grow in 3D, mimicking human cell-cell interactions and growing at higher fidelity and responsiveness compared to terrestrial, 2D cell cultures, making them better for drug development. Great interest has been focused on developing 3D cell culture models that can mimic and eventually replace the use of animal models in drug development as well as contribute to artificial organ development.

Technology Maturation

The objective for this flight test is to create a bioprinter that prints 3D droplets using microgravity-condition cells/bioink mixtures and to examine and compare how cells printed in 0 g interface with a bioink matrix versus ground-printed (1 g) cells.

Future Customers

Cost-effective alternative to animal studies; could contribute to artificial organ development
Commercial space industry
Medical industry
Pharmaceutical industry
Biotech industry

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    TechFlights21 (Dec 2021)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 0 Parabolic

Development Team

  • PI
    Lawrence Harvey
  • Organization
    Center for Applied Space Technology
  • Sponsor

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