BioFabrication Facility (BioFabrication Facility (BFF)) - 01.30.19

Summary | Overview | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Techshot BioFabrication Facility (BFF) is dedicated to manufacturing human organs and tissues in space, primarily for use by patients on Earth. Besides printing tissue, the BFF also can help maintain the health of deep space exploration crews by producing food and personalized pharmaceuticals on demand.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Rich Boling, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Facility Details

OpNom: BioFabrication Facility

Facility Manager(s)
Andy Kurk, Techshot, Inc., Greenville, IN, United States

Facility Representative(s)
Kenneth Barton, Techshot, Inc., Greenville, IN, United States

Techshot, Inc., Greenville, IN, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2019 - April 2020

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

Information Pending

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Facility Description

Facility Overview

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that each day 79 people receive organ transplants. However, 22 people die while on the transplant list each day due to organ shortages. Techshot believes that microgravity is the missing component required to finally realize the potential of 3 dimensional printed bioengineered organs.  Addressing this need for bioengineered organs, Techshot developed a commercial 3 dimensional BioFabrication Facility (BFF) for the International Space Station (ISS). Manufacturing organs and tissues in space makes sense biologically and fiscally. Typical hydrogels, or bioinks, which are the basis for 3dimensional bioprinting, have very low viscosities at ambient printing temperatures, then become several orders of magnitude more rigid at temperatures near 37°C. Because of these low initial viscosities, either support structures are needed, or crosslinking agents that can rapidly add support are added – in Earth-based laboratories. Support structures make it difficult or impossible to create small void spaces such as vascular or lymph pathways, and most crosslinking agents that can work within a rapid time window pose some level of toxicity to the cells in the bioink.
The support structure required on Earth can be eliminated in a microgravity environment. By removing gravity from the equation, sedimentation and scaffold collapse can be eliminated, thereby allowing the biology to proceed unhindered by altered chemistry.
Still, a thick tissue cannot return to Earth for implantation immediately following its printing in space. It must remain in microgravity for several weeks in the care of a complex Techshot bioreactor cassette, which conditions the tissue until it becomes a single strong and healthy organ, rather than just remaining a stack of thousands of separate printed layers. While the BFF is now seeing its initial deployment in space, Techshot tissue culturing bioreactor cassettes already have flown aboard space shuttle missions STS-77 and STS-95. And, three also operated aboard ISS during Increment 52. All were hosted on orbit inside the Techshot ADvanced Space Experiment Processor (ADSEP), which now is used in conjunction with BFF to culture the tissues it prints.
From a purely financial perspective, the benefits to the patient of manufacturing an organ in space with his or her own stem cells will be significant. Organs made by the Techshot BFF are expected to cost less than the full set of costs that are typical for a patient who suffers from a chronic disease state that today requires a lifetime of drug therapies and potentially, multiple transplants.
The BFF expects to initially serve the research market, to which Techshot has provided equipment and service solutions for nearly 30 years. This will provide the fastest route to revenue generation, while also determining the feasibility of manufacturing human organs, tissues and grafts in space that are suitable for transplantation into patients on Earth. The second phase of commercialization, then, is the routine manufacture of these transplantable products.

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Facility Operations
• Bioinks are launched to ISS and inserted into the Techshot BFF by the flight crew.

• Techshot engineers and scientist, remotely upload print files to BFF from the company’s Payload Operations Control Center (POCC) in Greenville, IN.

• ISS flight crew installs a Techshot cell culturing cassette into the BFF.

• Via its POCC, Techshot initiates and monitors the process of using the BFF to print cells inside the cassette.

• When printing of the tissue construct has completed, flight crew seals the culture vessel inside the cassette and inserts it into the Techshot ADSEP facility adjacent to BFF for processing.

• Cassette remains in ADSEP for approximately 60 days, during which time it continues to be monitored by Techshot before being removed and packed for return to Earth.

• Up to three cassettes can be simultaneously processed in ADSEP.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

Results Publications

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Ground Based Results Publications

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ISS Patents

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Related Publications

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Related Websites

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