Welsh Companies Turned to Ancient Jellyfish for World First Bioprinting Project

Bioprinting is one of the most exciting applications for the 3D printing in the medical sector. Enabling the possibility to create organs or more, it truly represents the peak of human innovation. In the latest news, after receiving SMART Cymru innovation funding, Jellagen and Copner Biotech, were able to successfully complete a world-first, next-generation precision bioprinter. The key? An ancient jellyfish species that helped them to create the bioinks for the bioprinting solution.

The successful completion of the project was thanks to a SMART Cymru Innovation Award of £123,724 to develop next generation 3D bio technologies. SMART Cymru was designed to help support Welsh businesses, like Jellagen and Copner Biotech, to develop, implement and commercialize new products, processes, and services. In this case, this was achieved through the creation of a unique bioprinting software and the hardware platform along with the prototype bioinks. The two companies hope that their solution will be able to be used for both research and tissue engineering in the near future.

jellyfish bioprinting

40X magnified captured image of a bioprinted Collagen Type 0 line, using GRAPE-S1’s microfluidic settings (photo credits: Jellagen)

Professor Andrew Mearns Spragg, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Jellagen, further commented, “Although not yet commercially available, SMART Cymru’s funding has enabled a world-first partnership in 3D bioprinting with Copner Biotech. We are delighted with the data outputs of this project that has clearly demonstrated the further potential use of our Collagen Type 0 biomaterials for future bio-ink development.  We are very excited to see how this technology can be further developed towards medical tissue engineering applications and cell culture research market solutions.”

Precise Bioprinting With Inspiration From Jellyfish

In this project, one of the core focuses was on developing the bioinks. Namely, Jellagen turned to their own proprietary biomaterial, Collagen Type 0, which is a jellyfish-derived source of collagen. In the press release, Jellagen notes that it could be considered as coming from the root of the evolutionary tree, making it safer, more efficacious, and versatile than mammal counterparts. This collagen is harvested from Barrel Jellyfish in the Irish Sea and which are currently a threat to biodiversity in the area as they are becoming vast blooms of marine pests around the coast of the UK. This jellyfish-derived collagen was also perfect for bioprinting as it helps avoid some of the ethical, safety and religious implications of using mammalian sources of biomimetic materials and living cells as most current projects do.

Ultimately, Copner Biotech’s bioprinter, the GRAPE-S1, was able to print very fine (<100um in diameter) 3D structures thanks to Jellagen’s novel hydrogel technology and bio-ink platform. This further allowed for the creation of precise 3D architecture that could potentially micic the micro-environment of a living system, the ultimate goal for bioprinters. Jordan Copner, Founder and CEO of Copner Biotech concluded:

“3D bioprinting has huge potential to transform lives through tissue engineering, and through this latest partnership with Jellagen, we are excited to be able to show the potential real-world benefits of this technology.”

*Cover Photo Credits: tato grasso, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons



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