BioprintingMedical Research

Aspect Biosystems, NRC developing 3D bioprinted models for brain disease

Aspect Biosystems, a Vancouver-based biotech company is working with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to develop 3D bioprinted therapeutic models which could improve treatments for central nervous systems diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and ALS.

The partners are currently developing 3D therapeutic models of the blood-brain barrier, an important part of our anatomies that keeps harmful substances in the blood—like toxins or pathogens—from the brain to protect it. In fulfilling its function, however, the blood-brain barrier also stops the majority of therapeutics from reaching the brain, inhibiting treatments for brain disease.

For many years, this challenge has stumped the pharmaceutical industry, explaining why viable treatments for neurological diseases and disorders are so few. Thanks to advances in biomedical research, however, there is hope for the future.

Aspect Biosystems NRC brain

For instance, the NRC has already developed a breakthrough 2D model of the blood-brain barrier than enables researchers to better predict which therapies will reach the brain through the barrier. This model relies on specialized stem cells which are programmed to generate brain cells.

Now, working with bioprinting specialist Aspect Biosystems, the Canadian research body is furthering this effort with the development of a 3D model of the blood-brain barrier. This model, which will leverage Aspect Biosystems’ unique microfluidic bioprinting technology, will allow for the development of more advanced treatments for brain disease.

Anna Jezierski, Research Officer, Therapeutics Beyond Brain Barriers program, National Research Council of Canada, stated: “A 3D model will allow us to reproduce the cellular diversity of the blood-brain barrier so that we can better understand the possible interactions between the barrier and intended medical treatments, putting us at the forefront of promising new research.”

It goes without saying that the collaboration is an exciting one, as the development of a new drug-testing platform could open up new possibilities for therapies to treat Alzheimer’s, ALS and other neurological diseases. The research will utilize Aspect Biosystems’ RX1 Bioprinter, which the NRC acquired through the Build in Canada Innovation Program.

“Our goal is to combine the strength of our microfluidic 3D bioprinting platform with the NRC’s deep expertise in this area to develop a blood-brain barrier model suitable for in vitro screening with a line of sight to commercialization,” added Tamer Mohamed, CEO of Aspect Biosystems. “We will thereby enable drug developers to more efficiently and effectively develop life-changing neurotherapeutics for a wide range of brain diseases and disorders.”


Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault moved from her home of Montreal, Canada to the Netherlands in 2014 to pursue a master’s degree in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. It was during her time in Amsterdam that she became acquainted with 3D printing technology and began writing for a local additive manufacturing news platform. Now based in France, Tess has over two and a half years experience writing, editing and publishing additive manufacturing content with a particular interest in women working within the industry. She is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM industry.

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