Poietis, the deeptech that develops 3D printing of human tissue

If for you, making skin, ears or even a nose using a 3D printer is more science fiction than reality, get ready to review your copy. Teaming up 3d printing and tissue engineering, bio-printing has become one of the most promising technologies in the medical field, particularly in tissue reconstruction. ” Even today, when we have to perform an autograft on a major burn patient, for example, we take skin from another part of his body and then, depending on the surface to be covered, we extend it using a technique net which can triple or even quadruple its initial size. An effective process certainly, but which does not allow to cover large surfaces », explains Fabien Guillemot, president and scientific director of deep tech Poietis. If the expert points out the limits of autografting, it is precisely because his solution is positioned as an alternative to this surgical procedure.

Bioprinting: a revolution in the medical sector

In 2003, an American researcher published his first work on bio-printing after hijacking an office printer so that it could edit cells. Little by little, research of the same type is beginning to emerge all over the world, particularly in France. Within the INSERM (National Institute of Health and Medical Research) in Bordeaux, a group of researchers is developing a project to edit, via laser printing, cells and tissues from the skin of the patient. ” At the time, we weren’t even talking about bio-printing, or even printing. We were talking more about the transfer of biological elements by laser.“says the founder of Poietis. “We were also able to take advantage of 3D printing technologies which have become more and more present in the technological universe.“. Between 2011 and 2012, the researcher and his team imagined a way to promote this technology in order to make it marketable. Two years later, Fabien Guillemot and his partner Bruno Buisson launched Poietis.

If, initially, the company positions itself in the dermo-cosmetic research sector through partnerships with major accounts such as L’Oréal, it is gradually taking a turn which will lead it, in 2020, to focus solely on therapeutic applications. “At the same time, we also decided to work on the marketing of our 3D printer, because the technology had become mature enough to be put in the hands of third parties.“says Fabien Guillemot. Recently, it was the Design Hospital in Marseille which acquired the multimodal 4D bio-printing system from Poietis. Named NGB (Next-Generation Bioprinting), this technology offers tissue engineers, researchers and biologists the possibility of overcoming the limits of conventional bioprinting technologies by allowing precise control of the positioning of cells and biomaterials and there the functionality of biological tissues: areal revolution“.

“Printing organs is a bit like going to Mars”

The most complex thing in the realization of this product was the very organization of the company.“says the leader. Composed of biologists, pharmacists and professionals in mechanical engineering and laser technologies, the Poietis team brings together professions that do not usually interact together. The different trades interact at several stages of the projects. Schematically, the biologists intervene first of all to express to the developers of the technology their needs and constraints. In return, they become beta testers of the technological solutions developed. “This organization allows us to accelerate technological developments as well as application developments.“. A peculiarity in its organization which can however be perceived, in particular by investors, as too complex to manage, especially since it stems from a hybrid economic model where Poietis is both an equipment developer and an application developer. “In view of the orders recorded and the discussions in progress, we have good hopes of achieving profitability this year. In other words, our strategy comes down to that of an SME that has to live off its customers’ money! Short-term financial needs therefore relate more to the management of WCR and industrialization expenditure. The cash thus generated should allow us to finance at least part of clinical developments.“. A scheme which, according to the manager, will make the acceleration levers that the company will mobilize in the future even more effective.

With a technology, now mature, which allows the production of 3D printed skin in three weeks, the objective of the researcher and his team is now to succeed in obtaining, with ever smaller samples (three to four square centimeters today), surfaces at least ten times larger.
Currently in the process of starting clinical studies, and with already nearly 2 million orders for NGB-R and NGB-C bioprinters in Europe and the United States from cell therapy centers and research laboratories, Poietis hopes to obtain the same results of integration on patients as those achieved following an autograft. A work that deeptech is carrying out in parallel with projects such as a heart patch, cartilage production but also the printing of mini-brains. A project which, if it fuels fantasies, is still far from being a reality, as the scientist reminds us. “Even today, it is difficult to say when we will be able to print organs such as a heart or a kidney, which are extremely complex machinery. Yes, researchers are working on the impression of blood vessels or corneas, but it is still in the study phase.“recalls Fabien Guillemot. “Printing organs is a bit like going to Mars, that’s the ultimate perspective. But before that – and thanks to this perspective – we are going to develop other intermediate solutions which will relate to the manufacture of tissues or part of these organs, which will make it possible to repair them.“.

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