Spanish startup REGEMAT3D has appeared on a list of the Top Five Biofabrication companies impacting the biotech industry. GEN spoke to Nathalie Lahet, business developer at REGEMAT3D about the potential of bioprinting to transform biomanufacturing.

How is common is biofabrication in the pharmaceutical industry?

Lahet: The technology isn’t mainstream yet, but it’s seeing growing applications in personalized medicine, in the development of tissue (for regenerative medicine), and for animal-free testing during drug discovery.

Can you tell me about the applications in drug formulation?

Lahet: You can use 3D bioprinting for the customization of medication, such as varying tablet size and layer thickness, the form, and release profile of the drug. In a study we’ve published, the authors have used a bioprinter to develop personalized pills loaded with a nano-sized drug to target a metabolic syndrome. The subject of the publication has a patent, along with our method to develop the tablets.

What other biomanufacturing applications are there?

Lahet: We’ve developed a bioreactor because we wanted to take the bioprinting technology into the clinic to produce functional tissues, such as skin cells or cartilage. We don’t create life—it’s the same sort of technology as repairing corals in the sea. You can use bioprinting technology to print some coral scaffold that you put in the sea to regenerate corals.

We put a scaffold into the bioreactor, the cells grow on it, and we decide the best time to implant it into a patient’s body. We’re involved in projects for regenerating tissues in the retina of the eyes, the spinal cord, and the cartilage in the knee.

Whom do you supply with your technology?

Lahet: We mostly supply research groups and universities, but we’re hoping to go further to supply industry and companies. We’re developing in a fast-moving environment where our technology is seeing a lot of interest—not only in the pharmaceutical industry but also, for example, in the cosmetics industry which is moving towards animal-free testing.

What do you see as the future of biofabrication?

Lahet: Biofabrication technology has huge potential. Maybe one day we’ll be able to think about printing whole organs, rather than just repairing them. There are also researchers in our field who are working with NASA so, in the future, we could send people into space with a bioprinter so they could repair injuries themselves.