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This Brazilian startup has the dream of creating organs using 3D bioprinters

Publicado em 19 outubro 2021

TissueLabs, a Brazilian healthtech with just two years of life, is holding talks with four investment funds — three of them Brazilian, according to O Globo — to raise US$ 2.5 million in a seed-type contribution for startups at the beginning of their careers. The round should take place in the coming months and should be a major boost to the company’s great ambition: to create a human heart in the laboratory, using 3D bioprinters.

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It won’t be the first money invested in TissueLabs. An investment of R$ 1.5 million in angel investment in June last year, led by economist Eduardo Zylberstajn, in addition to around R$ 2 million from the Foundation for Research Support of the State of São Paulo (Fapesp) through the Small Business Innovative Research (Pipe) program. The latter funding financed a project to industrialize the manufacture of biotints—combinations of hydrogels with extremely high-resolution cells.

Another achievement was the opening of an office in Lugano, Switzerland. This step allowed obtaining, last month, a grant of around 15 thousand Swiss francs (R$ 89,700) from InnoSuisse, the country’s innovation agency.

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Today, the startup offers the scientific community the means to manufacture organs and tissues in the laboratory. At the same time, it develops its own lines of research aiming at the future manufacture of organs and tissues to be sold. One of its products is a bioprinter called TissueStart, which will allow 3D printing of organs using such biotints.

But the technology is still in development. The goal will be to “print” transplantable organs, but today it only produces a few centimeters of tissue. “There are still many bottlenecks. We can’t get cells on a sufficient scale to produce large tissues. The creation of microvascularization systems is an even greater difficulty. But we believe that in 15, 20 years, we will achieve the scale we are looking for”, explained co-founder Gabriel Liguori to The Globe.

A 32-year-old doctor, Liguori founded healthtech alongside engineer Emerson Moretto. Eduardo Zylberstajn, the company’s angel investor, has a personal motivation behind the help.

“When I spoke to him for the first time, he told me that his daughter, like me, was diagnosed with a cardiac malformation at birth, requiring surgery as a child. At the time, I was already developing research projects, aimed at manufacturing organs and tissues in the laboratory and Eduardo’s wife, Fernanda, led an NGO to support families of children with heart disease,” Liguori told Agência FAPESP.

While printed organs do not become reality, TissueLabs continues with other achievements. One of them is the MatriWell platform, which mimics the microenvironment of the lungs in cell cultures so that scientists can faithfully study the advancement of covid in the organism. Another was the award from one of the young innovators under 35 to co-founder Gabriel Liguori, given by MIT Technology Review late last year.