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NGen Funds Development of Novel Bioink for Generating Human Brain Tissue

Robbie MacLeod   June 11, 2024

Award-winning biotech company Axolotl Biosciences partners with StarFish Medical to scale production of BrainPrint bioink.


HAMILTON, ON, July 8, 2022 - Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen) has announced $265k in co-funding, for a project led by Canadian biotechnology company Axolotl Biosciences in partnership with StarFish Medical to scale-up the production of BrainPrint bioink. BrainPrint can be used to print human brain tissue models as a tool for understanding neurodegenerative diseases and as a tool for drug screening. 

“With support from NGen, Canadian companies like Axolotl Biosciences and StarFish Medical are making advances that contribute to better health outcomes for Canadians. Our government is proud to support this project, which will enable researchers both here in Canada and around the world to expand their capabilities using stem cells and to generate knowledge in advanced manufacturing processes.” – The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.” 

“NGen’s collaborative consortia model provides a unique opportunity for SMEs like Axolotl Biosciences to bring their high-potential technologies from pilot to commercial scale. Through partnership with StarFish Medical, the consortium will develop new advanced manufacturing processes that will confer a unique global advantage to Canada’s advanced manufacturing ecosystem.” – Jayson Myers, CEO, NGen 

"We are excited to see the NGen supercluster providing this important support to two B.C. based companies - Axolotl Biosciences and StarFish Medical - enable them to bring innovative technologies like BrainPrint bioink to the market" – Wendy Hulburt, President of LifeSciences B.C. 

“Axolotl Biosciences is pleased to be partnering with StarFish Medical to bring our cutting edge BrainPrint bioink to the rapidly growing biotechnology market. Our history of collaboration and their unique expertise in translating microfluidic technologies from benchtop to market makes them an ideal development partner.” – Dr. Stephanie Willerth, C.E.O. of Axolotl Biosciences 

3D bioprinting enables the generation of human tissues on demand, which can serve as an important tool for screening potential drug targets. Axolotl Biosciences creates specialized bioinks that generate reproducible, functional human tissues derived from stem cells. Their newest bioink, BrainPrint, uses a patent pending microsphere drug delivery system to help create stable and mature human brain tissues from stem cells.  

BrainPrint can be used with a variety of commercially available bioprinters to produce human neural tissues that replicate the chemical and electrical signals found in the brain. It can also be used in combination with stem cells taken from patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s to produce models of the diseased brain as a tool to evaluate potential therapies.  

StarFish Medical will focus on implementation of commercial scale microfluidic processes for fabricating the drug releasing microspheres based on prototypes developed in the Willerth and Elvira labs at the University of Victoria using the combined strengths of Axolotl Biosciences and StarFish Medical. 

“We believe that bioinks for 3D tissue printing will be an important sector over the next decade and Axolotl is well positioned to do well with their innovative technology,” said Scott Phillips President and Founder of StarFish Medical. 

This project brings together two British Columbia. based companies in a unique biomanufacturing project that will create more jobs and technologies in the exciting field of 3D bioprinting, which is already a $1.7 billion market while establishing Canada as a known leader in this field.   

About NGen - Next Generation Manufacturing Canada 
NGen is the industry-led not-for-profit organization that leads Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster. Its mandate is to help build world-leading advanced manufacturing capabilities in Canada for the benefit of Canadians. NGen works to strengthen collaboration among its membership of more than 4,500 manufacturers, technology companies, innovation centres, and researchers, and provides funding and business support to industry-led initiatives that aim to develop, apply, or scale-up transformative manufacturing solutions in Canada for commercialization in global markets. https://www.ngen.ca   

About Axolotl Biosciences  

Axolotl Biosciences envisions advancing the fields of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine by developing and providing innovative products for 3D bioprinting. Our short-term strategy focuses on production and distribution of our novel bioinks as reagents for use by academic researchers while generating revenue starting this year. Strong demand for our bioinks exists from academic researchers due to their superior performance compared to commercially available bioinks, giving us a competitive advantage for capturing a significant share of the $400 million market for these products. https://axolotlbiosciences.com  

About StarFish Medical  

StarFish Medical is a full service Medical Device Design company offering design, development, and manufacturing services based in Toronto and Victoria. StarFish Medical partners with innovative companies to create and manufacture breakthrough products for a full range of medical specialty areas including: stem cell therapies, biomanufacturing, assay integrations, microfluidic prototyping, and In-Vitro Diagnostics. StarFish Medical’s technical expertise includes electronics, mechanical, software/firmware systems engineering, in addition to industrial design and human factors. Regulatory Affairs (RA) and Quality Assurance (QA) consultants at StarFish Medical provide regulatory assistance for FDA, CE Mark and Health Canada submissions.  https://starfishmedical.com/  


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