Have you ever wondered what the companies like Mars, Walmart, Volkswagen and Samsung Electronics have in common? They are all family-owned enterprises, and so is BioFab. Founded in 2014 by Cesar Loo Gil and his father-in-law Ricardo Garcia, BioFab uses a 3D bioprinter to produce various parts of a human body. This week we are happy to tell you their story.
What is the problem?
The line for a new organ transplantation is getting longer every day. The problem can be seen not only in lack of actual donors at the particular moment, but also in the waiting time. To give an example, the median waiting time for an individual’s first kidney transplant is 3.6 years and can vary depending on health, compatibility and availability of organs.
In 2003, Cesar’s grandmother died from a liver cancer. Full of hope and optimism, the family was waiting to hear the happy news from the doctors that there is a donor. Unfortunately, this day never came. Life showed its dark side and Cesar’s grandmother passed away. “Eleven years later I still remember her pain” — tells us Cesar. This unfortunate event in Cesar’s life was the main reason why he asked himself: why not create a technology for printing human organs? This is how BioFab came into being.
“In need of an organ? Or maybe you want to own the whole bioprinter? BioFab can give you both.”
How is the problem solved?
“Average human lives for 80 years. I aim to increase this number by 50%.”
Over 400 years ago, the human life amounted to forty or fifty years on average. With the revolutionary scientific discovery — the creation of penicillin, which saved up to 200 million lives, the average life length increased by 50%. Cesar and Ricardo believe that it is time to increase human living by another 50% and this can be done with the bio-printed organs.
How does it work?
“What we’re selling is biological materials in stem cells”, tells us Cesar. In need of an organ? Or maybe you want to own the whole bio printer? With BioFab both options are possible. The company makes sales offers for 3D bio printers together with all the necessary supplies, as well as ready-made, human organs. At the moment, BioFab creates biomaterials of human size like trachea, which after being 3D printed are put into a bioreactor. With the bioreactor, BioFab takes out the stem cells, differentiates them on nervous cells, cultivates and multiplies these in four to six weeks. These cells multiply into millions of cells. Then simply plant the stem cells in the muscular axioms and it works!
“In the end, the patient can get their organ within 8 weeks of ordering it.”
Currently, BioFab can print organs such as cartilage, tissues, esophagus, trachea, bladder, etc. — as long as the organs need only one cellular function and they are not compound organs, BioFab can already print and deliver them starting October within 2 months. With organs such as the liver, it is very difficult to bioprint them at this stage, since they have several layers and each layer processes different substance from the other. Hence, it is not yet possible but there are plans to develop them in the future. Initially, the first transplant was planned last year when BioFab got a request to bio print a piece for a child. Unfortunately, the child passed away before it was possible to do the transplant. The first implant is now planned for October 2016.
While the price of a bio printer is approximately $400,000, the price for a single organ, e.g. cartilage does not exceed $12,000. Printing the organ takes four hours on average. The process with stem cells, differentiation, cultivation and multiplication takes four to six weeks. In the end, the patient can get their organ within 8 weeks of ordering it.