Shrink Nanotechnologies is teaming up with EV Group for the development and large-scale manufacture of Shrink’s structured substrates for its StemDisc stem cell and cell culturing platform. Shrink has previously tapped into nano-imprint lithography specialist EV Group for manufacturing assistance.
The new two-year deal will allow the development of both its initial StemDisc product and new entries into the StemDisc family. The firm hopes to roll out StemDisc products over the coming months.
Shrink is focused on the development of nanotechnology-based components and systems for a range of industries, based on its prestressed NanoShrink™ plastic and associated ShrinkChip Manufacturing Solution™. The combination of the two platforms allows Shrink to print the desired microstructures, including complex stacked or 3-D designs, on a larger scale and then uniformly shrink them down to a nanoscale size by heating. It claims the process means the resulting products retain desired features right down to the nanoscale, while eliminating the need for cleanrooms and other complex robotics or tools.
Shrink is harnessing its platforms to develop a number of products for bioresearch and diagnostics applications. The StemDisc product features wells with rounded or honeycomb-like morphology, to facilitiate the formation of stem cell embryoid body (EB) at a higher rate and efficiency compared with current EB formation methods. The technology can be designed with wells ranging from 20-400 nanometers and varying depths, and can be used with any standard culture well plates. Shrink says because StemDisc can be customized to fit any configuration, the technology can be utilized across a broad range of culture substrates, including current market-leading legacy products.
The product initially being manufactured in collaboration with EV Group features an eight-well footprint, with each well containing about 850 individual honeycomb-shaped, round-bottomed microwell cell culture environments. Each StemDisc microwell is about 450 microns in diameter and about 100 microns deep, and is composed from a sub-200 micron thick optically transparent polymer.
“Over the past two years, the Shrink StemDisc product footprint has served as a platform for our entry into the growing cell culture business,” remarks Mark L. Baum, CEO. “We believe that StemDisc offers unique competitive advantages relative to its peers and are excited as an organization as we roll out our initial products later this year and into the first quarter of next year.”
Shrink is separately exploiting its NanoShrink technologies to develop a family of CellAlign™ products for the structured alignment of biological tissues, and particularly those such as cardiac or nerve tissues, which naturally grow in a linear fashion. The firm claims CellAlign’s key feature is its micro-fabricated substrate with nonperiodic linear patterned grooves that allow for the alignment of cells along a single axis.
Shrink can foresee using its CellAlign technology to develop linear tissue stem cell patches or "band-aids", such as heart patches for the treatment of damaged heart tissue after myocardial infarction. The firm says studies in animal models have already shown that cardiac cells grown on CellAlign take a specific orientation, allowing for electrical propagation and a visual beating characteristic.
Another arm of product development at Shrink is the use of its technologies to develop a low-cost biochip prototyping station and accompanying software that would allow users to rapidly design and manufacture customizable biochips, including microfluidic chips for lab-on-a-chip systems. The firm’s resulting ShrinkChip RPS™ system consists of a direct-write plotter that cuts and engraves channels in a NanoShrink film, and a fixture for aligning and sealing channels together. The station is also capable of cutting channels in a variety of laminate films to integrate functional layers such as membranes and filters. Shrink claims the total design cycle for such a system is reduced to 30-90 minutes.
The ShrinkChip RPS system forms the backbone of a potential product offering that would include consumables such as specialized blades and the NanoShrink™ material, software to help users create microfluidic designs with predesigned microfluidic components, and services for transferring product designs to production. Shrink says it aims to market the products in collaboration with a third party.