Astropharmacy / Biotechnology

Offworld Life Science Research: Fixing A Bioprinter In Space

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
November 18, 2023
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Offworld Life Science Research: Fixing A Bioprinter In Space
NASA ID: iss070e023971 iss070e023971 (Nov. 13, 2023) Larger image

NASA astronaut and Expedition 70 Flight Engineer Loral O’Hara uses a portable glovebag to replace components on a biological printer, the BioFabrication Facility (BFF), that is testing the printing of organ-like tissues in microgravity.

Redwire’s BioFabrication Facility Set to Bioprint First Human Knee Meniscus On International Space Station – 23 July 2023

This week, Redwire is gearing up for a monumental milestone on orbit that could have important implications for human health on Earth.

The Redwire team is initiating operations for the BFF-Meniscus-2 investigation, which will use Redwire’s upgraded BioFabrication Facility (BFF) on the International Space Station (ISS) to bioprint a human knee meniscus. The investigation is exploring how space bioprinting could help treat meniscal injuries, one of the most common orthopedic injuries affecting U.S. military service members. The print will be the first time a full human knee meniscus is bioprinted in space.

Redwire’s BioFabrication Facility – NASA

Once BFF prints the meniscus with living human cells in the bioinks, it will be transferred to Redwire’s Advanced Space Experiment Processor (ADSEP) to be cultured for 14 days to produce the solidified meniscus. The meniscus will then be stored for return and analysis back on Earth. BFF-Meniscus-2 builds on a 2019 experiment where the BFF 3D printed a meniscus-shaped scaffold using bioink derived from human tissue proteins. However, no living cells were included.

For BFF-Meniscus-2, Redwire is working with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Center for Biotechnology (4DBio3), a biomedical research center that explores and adapts promising biotechnologies for warfighter benefit.

As a permanent fixture to the ISS, BFF is enabling game-changing opportunities in biomedical and pharmaceutical research to benefit human health on Earth. BFF is part of Redwire’s growing portfolio of technologies and innovative on-orbit capabilities enabling human spaceflight missions and commercial microgravity research and development in low-Earth orbit.

Follow Redwire on social media for updates on the BFF-Meniscus-2 investigation.

Watch this video to learn more about BFF and see it being installed on the ISS earlier this year:

Astrobiology, 3D printing, Bioprinting

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻