Bioprinting has always had a lot of potential for growth in the medical field,
With 3D printing models and also a viable working heart. The use cases for bioprinting are varied and potentially limitless.
A major challenge in drug development is getting a hold of proteins and how they interact with certain compounds.
Even if the machinery were available, it would still take a lot of funding and a well-rounded lab for any protein extraction to happen.
Four Cambridge PhD students over drinks wanted to solve that problem almost a decade ago.
A simple question was asked: what if you could 3D print proteins?
Nuclera, the startup they founded nine years later, has raised €38 million in a Series B round led by Amadeus Capital Partners, M & G, RT Partners, Future Planet Capital, and the American corporation E Ink.
Thanks to the new round, Nuclera will be able to market its desktop e-protein printer.
Why are proteins important?
Proteins are a structural part of all living organisms.
Misfolded proteins can cause neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Other proteins, such as JNK, are used to treat cancer. Proteins are also crucial in several studies on longevity.
Drug development and protein synthesis studies might take a long time to complete.
Nuclera aims to make a difference with its bioprinting desktop which would make it possible for proteins to e printed within a day for the first time.
Nuclera’s cofounder and CEO, Michael Chen, believes it has the potential to dramatically speed up drug discovery and open up new pathways for biotech innovation.
When Nuclera’s team started researching ways to print proteins, they discovered digital microfluidic technology. A method of making display devices (such as Kindles) look like traditional ink on paper.
Nuclera and E Ink, the business that commercialized the technology, formed a strategic partnership (Nuclera later acquired a part of E Ink, which had the technology the startup used). In layman’s terms, the printer will use DNA to screen for protein expression. The DNA digital impulses are then converted into hundreds of nanolitre droplets, which are then printed as a pure protein using the digital microfluidic process.
This, according to Chen, is only the beginning.
The bioprinting market
Things are looking up for companies in the biotech 3D-printing space. By 2028, the market for these gadgets will have tripled to $6.6 billion, according to Insight Partners.
European startups are making strides as well: DNA Script, a company that prints personalized DNA, raised $200 million in a Series C investment earlier this year, and Swedish Cellink, which has already gone public, 3D prints human organs and tissues. Other firms focusing on bone printing include Danish Particle3D, Spanish Mimetis, and Dutch Xilloc.
New developments in biotech ( gene editing and sequencing and 3dprinted tissues) are opening up the field to investors like no other point in time, and are going to continue to cause market growth.
Source: Nuclera, sifted