So, this may be slightly embarrassing. Some time ago, during a research project in tissue engineering, we made an error while putting one of our customized bioreactors together. By pure accident, some fluid lines led to the wrong positions, and some cells ended up in the wrong place. Initially we thought our experiment had failed, and everything in it had somehow died. But, much to our suprise, we discovered that the cells had survived in their erroneous environment, and had been induced to grow into a strange sheet-like structure. This accident revealed to us a completely unique bioreactor design that can cause cells of any mammalian type to grow into large, strong and thick sheets.
Thick sheet of mammalian cells Confirmation it's made of GFP+ HEK cells
Nascent structures in the dome Not photoshopped (we really grew those!!)
Incredible structures can be made
This is all very new. We're still trying to understand how it works, how to control it better, and whether useful and valuable structures can be grown. We can say with some level of confidence today:
- It works with either mammalian cells or fungi.
- The cells exhibit an organic adhesion to each other, both laterally and vertically, giving them the elastic strength characteristic of living tissues.
- Cells remain viable even in the depth of the tissue.
So far, we have signed with a publicly traded food company (not yet to be named), to explore the utility of this bioreactor to grow vegan meat replacement products. We are in discussion with two other groups for applications in cultured vegan apparel (i.e. leather, fur coats). Gene And Cell Technologies retains the full rights to applications in regenerative medicine. If you think you might have an application for this very early-stage and largely unexplored way to promote cell adhesion, please drop us a line.
We don't necessarily need to get paid a huge amount of money upfront. We're more interested in people who can study the promise and the limitations of this very novel technology. (Although if you make a million dollars with it, we won't object to getting paid some of it :) If this is really robust, and broadly useful to a large variety of cell types, then it would be much bigger than what any one company can handle. Think PCR licensing as one successful example we may try to approximate.