It may sound like science fiction, but already scientists at Cyfuse have bioprinted blood vessels able to withstand 10 times the pressure of those already in the human body, according to Koji Kuchiishi, co-founder and former CEO.
Bioprinting works like this: Scientists harvest human cells from biopsies or stem cells, then allow them to multiply in a petri dish. The resulting mixture, a sort of biological ink, is fed into a 3-D printer that is programmed to arrange different cell types and materials into a three-dimensional shape. Doctors hope that when placed into the body, these 3-D printed cells will integrate with existing tissue.
While breakthroughs in central nervous system and cardiac treatments remain in the future for now, Cyfuse's Regenova bioprinter is attracting attention from the scientific community. The bioprinter is a robotic system that facilitates the fabrication of 3-D cellular structures by placing cellular spheroids in fine needle arrays according to predesigned 3-D data. Among Cyfuse's goals: to treat spinal injuries and heart failure.
This year the company transplanted human neural tissue into the brain of a small animal with positive results. Blood vessels migrated into the transplanted tissue and the graft was healing after a month.
Cyfuse has also started a clinical trial of a cartilage project, transplanting its stem cell construct into damaged articular cartilage that will gradually differentiate into cartilage and bone and regenerate the tissue.
Cyfuse is one of a growing number of tech start-ups trying to get a toehold in the global marketplace. The sector is blossoming due to innovations in stem cell therapy and tissue engineering. North America accounted for nearly 50 percent of revenue share of global market revenues for regenerative medicines in 2016. Europe is second, at US$24 billion, with Germany leading the region.
Japan and South Korea are steadily gaining ground, however. Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry forecasts the regenerative medicine market to grow to 1 trillion yen ($9.6 billion) domestically by 2030.
With technological adoption and emphasis on research of these medicines, Asia-Pacific is currently one of the fastest-growing regions for regenerative medicine.