Aether, a developer of AI-driven 3D bioprinting technology, is partnering with a team from the University College London (UCL) and Loughborough University to develop a new, more cost efficient nanoprinting technology for pharmaceutical and medical applications. The company says its new technology will democratize bioprinting.
The UCL and Loughborough researchers will collaborate with Aether to develop a new type of bioink that contains nanoparticles. This material will be able to fulfill a number of functions, including being used for nanosurgical tools, as a delivery system for pharmaceuticals and bioactives, or as a mechanical and structural support system. In other words, the nanoparticle-containing bioink can be used to produce biomaterials and scaffolds for a broad range of end uses.
The nanoparticles integrated into the bioink will reportedly react to specified wavelengths, enabling the printed structures to release drugs or carrier agents or to degrade in a controlled manner.
In the project, Aether will supply the researchers with a custom Aether 3D bioprinter equipped with a laser system set at an application specific wavelength. The laser can be easily controlled through a user interface. Aether will also use the opportunity to evaluate how its current (and in development) computer vision and machine learning capabilities work with the process. Specifically, the company will look at how its AI tools can further automate and improve the processes of fabrication, agent activation and material deterioration.
A key part of the project, mentioned above, is to create an accessible and cost effective bioprinting process and materials. In fact, Aether stated that it plans to offer the 3D printing nanotechnology at just 2% of competitor costs.
“Combining 3D printing with nanotechnology is the beginning of a new generation of medical research,” commented Ryan Franks, CEO and Founder of Aether. “The problem is that the few startups in this field are being incredibly greedy. They don’t care how powerful a tool this is in the fight against cancer, these companies won’t let a researcher even dip a toe in the water unless they get paid well over a million dollars. We don’t agree with holding a life-saving technology hostage so a few executives and investors can get rich, so we’re fighting to democratize it.”
The San Francisco-based company adds that by adding nanotechnology capabilities to its multi-tool 3D printer, more applications will be opened up, going beyond what is currently possible using nanoprinting processes. For instance, laser-activated nanomaterials have applications in the photothermal destruction of cancer cells, cancer detection, gene therapy, drug deliver and nerve regeneration. Beyond medical uses, the technology could also be applied for nanofabrication in materials science and nanoelectronics for quantum computing.