CELLINK has been awarded project funding from the EU for the project SilkFUSION – Genetically engineered human pluripotent stem cells, functionalized silk-fibroin platforms and bio-inks: a novel solution for large-scale ex-vivo platelet production, transfusion and drug research through the Horizon 2020 – Novel ideas for radically new technologies program
Together with 6 partners (including the University of Pavia as Project Coordinator), CELLINK has received funding for the project at 100 percent of the project’s total estimated cost: approximately EUR 3 million. The project is scheduled for 48 months and the Company’s share of the project corresponds to an amount of EUR 350,000. The company does not incur any costs for the project.
CELLINK’s counter performance is entirely within the lines of the company’s regular operations. Withing the project’s scope, the company will be developing a new Bioink for the specific application. CELLINK has created one of the world’s first universal Bioinks, today used by many of the world’s most well-reputed research institutions.
A Bioink can be mixed with living cells to print functional human tissues and if future research is successful, eventually, complete human organs in so-called 3D-Bioprinters. CELLINK’s universal Bioink shows excellent results and can be used in both CELLINK’s proprietary 3D Bioprinters and in 3D Bioprinters developed by other operators.
The demand for human platelets (plts) for medical research and clinical applications is massive. The primary goal of SilkFUSION is to engineer groundbreaking 3D nanotechnologies for large-scale production of blood plts for human transfusion from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). The underlying hypothesis is that plt production ex-vivo can be optimized by providing megakaryocytes (Mks) with the correct physical and biochemical environment.
To prove this, the project will develop a unique technological platform by engineering non-thrombogenic silk-fibroin biomaterial with proteins, that were proven to promote a 55-fold gain in plt production, to create a three-dimensional ex-vivo bone marrow model that will enhance plt release from Mks derived from hPSCs. The platform will include novel applications to study pathogenetic mechanisms in patients with inherited platelet production disorders using genetically modified hPSCs; screening technology for predicting therapeutic efficacy of drugs for thrombocytopenic patients. The development of this technology will exploit an extremely innovative approach using silk-fibroin as a bio-ink for 3D printing a “live chip” containing viable Mks for reproducible drug testing.
The long-term vision is to foster the production of plts in-vitro for clinical transfusions in humans at a scale and cost that will address current supply challenges regarding immunologically matched products to alloimmunised patients; and “supercharged” platelets with recombinant FVIIa generating plts specifically suited for patients with acute haemorrhage resulting from trauma, surgery and wounded in conflict zones. The successful development and distribution of the SilkFUSION platforms will also offer researchers and clinicians specialized precision instruments and bio-ink kits for determining the safety and efficacy of drugs, reducing costs of ineffective therapies while promoting affordable functional strategies for the development of novel molecules.