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A State-of-the-Art 3D Bioprinter will be used to investigate novel disease mechanisms, enabling the discovery of therapies for patients with chronic lung diseases.

Researchers at the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health are collaborating with Aspect Biosystems, a Canadian biotech company that is pioneering 3D bioprinting of human tissues. Dr. Jeremy Hirota, Canada Research Chair in Respiratory Mucosal Immunology, is leading the collaboration through his Tissue Engineering for Advanced Medicine (TEAM) Lab located within the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

The TEAM Lab will use Aspect’s RX1™ 3D Bioprinter, along with a unique biobank of patient-derived samples, to develop lung models that will be used to identify novel disease mechanisms and help drug development. This state-of-the-art technology will help researchers study new therapeutic strategies for management of chronic lung diseases such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), asthma, and cystic fibrosis.

 

Erin Bedford (applications scientist, Aspect Biosystems) and Dr. Jeremy Hirota standing next to the Aspect Biosystems RX1™ 3D Bioprinter

“The RX1™ 3D Bioprinter brings cutting edge technology to the TEAM Lab at St. Joseph’s and McMaster University to probe 3D microenvironments important in lung cell biology,” said Dr. Hirota. “Classical model systems used in many labs throughout the world are 2D and do not reflect human lung biology. By using Aspect’s microfluidic 3D bioprinting technology, we will learn more about the lung in 3D and be positioned to develop new strategies that will help individuals with lung diseases.”

Dr. Hirota is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at McMaster University and holds Affiliate and Adjunct professorships at the University of British Columbia and the University of Waterloo, respectively.

“Aspect is committed to forming research alliances with leading researchers in drug discovery,” said Tamer Mohamed, CEO of Aspect Biosystems. “We are thrilled to partner with Dr. Jeremy Hirota and his team. This collaboration will use our broadly applicable microfluidic 3D bioprinting technology to generate advanced pulmonary tissues to discover novel therapeutic strategies that have the potential to positively impact the lives of millions of patients with chronic lung diseases.”

The TEAM Lab is directed by Hirota, who operates an internationally recognized research program in respiratory mucosal immunology focused on lung health and disease. Dr. Hirota and his team use a translational research approach with in vitro cell culture models, in vivo preclinical models, and clinical studies. Dr. Hirota’s primary areas of focus include patient-oriented health and disease research, opportunities for drug discovery and commercialization, and basic science involving immune receptor and related signaling pathways.

The 3D bioprinter is central to these focus areas – the Hirota Lab is working to create novel, dynamic 3D models that incorporate mechanical forces, such as flow and stretch, which are reflective of the human lung environment.

Acknowledging the unique opportunities that this technology presents to Hamilton researchers, Dr. Hirota has been teaming up with researchers and innovators across several disciplines, including Dr. Yaron Shargall, Head of Thoracic Surgery; Drs. Kjetil Ask and Martin Kolb of the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health; Dr. Richard Austin of the Hamilton Centre for Kidney Research; and several faculty members and their students from McMaster’s Faculties of Engineering and Science, including Drs. Ravi Selvaganapathy, Boyang Zhang, Todd Hoare, and Jose Moran-Mirabel.

Funding for this project was provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF). Under the terms of the agreement, Aspect has an option to license technology resulting from this collaboration for further development and commercialization.

 

About the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health:

The Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health (FIRH) is based in Hamilton, Ontario – the proud partnership of St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and McMaster University. Known internationally for its groundbreaking basic, clinical, and translational research on complex airway diseases, such as asthma, COPD, IPF, and others, FIRH has been helping Canadians breathe better for over 40 years.

 

About Aspect Biosystems:

Aspect Biosystems is a privately held biotechnology company pioneering microfluidic 3D bioprinting of living, human tissue. The company’s proprietary technology is enabling advances in understanding fundamental biology, disease research, development of novel therapeutics, and regenerative medicine. In addition to its internal programs, Aspect is focused on strategically partnering with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, as well as academic researchers, to enable the creation of living, human tissues for medical research, therapeutic discovery, and regenerative medicine products.

 

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