This Blog Post was written by our Friends at 3Ders.org and it was written by Alec -
To many people, medical testing on animals is a necessary evil – but finding an alternative is obviously an infinitely better alternative. What does this have to do with 3D printing? Well, startup Aether has just entered a 3D bioprinting collaboration with the Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence at Stanford University to 3D print tissue cells that will serve as test models for experimental drugs – the first step towards removing the need for animal testing altogether.
Key in this process is Aether’s revolutionary Aether 1 3D bioprinter, which became available as a beta unit back in September. Aether itself is a San Francisco-based tech start-up that has been working on a 3D printer that is, in their own words, “light years ahead of other 3D bioprinters on the market.” Their $9,000 Aether 1 offers the biofabrication potential usually found on hardware costing around a quarter of a million dollars and has therefore become a prime target for researchers from many of the world’s top universities and government-backed institutions. Currently going through a period of massive growth, Aether is working towards shipping their Aether 1 beta units as we speak.
This 3D printer stands out for its patent-pending biomaterial 3D printing system, involving up two two FDM filament extruders, eight syringe extruders, and 14 droplet jet extruders in a single 3D printing system. “Critically, Aether 1 has never-before-seen features like Machine Vision based fully Automatic Air Pressure Calibration, fully Automatic Stage-Leveling, Sealed Anodized Aluminum and Glass Exterior, and more,” its developers say. More on this powerful 3D bioprinter can be found here.
It is, in short, powerful enough to provide a huge boost to 3D bioprinting efforts everywhere, and that is exactly what a team of Stanford researchers are hoping for. Once shipped, Aether will provide the university’s Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence with multiple Aether 1 beta units, where they will support an ongoing silico modeling study. Specifically, they will be used to validate simulation models featuring virtual cells, tissues, and organs.
These models are being developed to provide a viable alternative to animal testing, but will need actual tissue material to be validated. If successful, the Aether 1 can thus facilitate a huge step forward towards animal-free testing. Incidentally, this is also a goal Aether has been supporting for a long time, and they therefore see this Stanford collaboration as a huge medical opportunity. The Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence will be the first Stanford research facility at to receive an Aether 1 beta unit, though other Stanford facilities have already shown interest as well.
If necessary, Aether will also be actively involved in the research by developing engineering solutions to unforeseen obstacles. “We were very excited to have one of the most incredible research centers on Earth express an interest in working with our soon-to-be-released Aether 1 Bioprinter. It was fantastic to learn they specifically wanted to use Aether 1 to support research involving computer simulation models which may simulate the human body better than the current animal model,” says Aether CEO Ryan Franks. “This was perfectly aligned with Aether’s mission to reduce and eliminate animal testing. This would of course be better ethically, but may also dramatically improve the speed of drug and therapy discovery, and make human clinical trials safer.”