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B.C.'s Aspect Biosystems inks multibillion-dollar deal for bioprinting tech

Agreement taps expertise to develop bioprinted tissue therapeutics to treat diabetes and obesity.
Tamer Mohamed, CEO and co-founder of Aspect Biosystems.

Aspect Biosystems, a Vancouver life sciences company that uses 3D bioprinting to grow human cells into specialized tissue, has inked a collaboration deal with a Danish stem cell therapy company that could be worth more than $3 billion.

Aspect Biosystems and Novo Nordisk A/S have struck a collaboration agreement to use their respective expertise to develop bioprinted tissue therapeutics to treat diabetes and obesity.

Under the agreement, Aspect will receive US$75 million ($100 million) in initial payments and up to US$650 million ($873 million) in milestone payments per product. As there are potentially four products that could be developed, that could make the deal worth up to $3.5 billion, according to Aspect Biosystems.

“The collaboration will leverage Aspect’s proprietary bioprinting technology and Novo Nordisk’s expertise and technology in stem cell differentiation and cell therapy development and manufacturing,” the companies said in a joint news release.

Aspect Biosystems uses bioprinting technology to engineer a wide variety of specialized organ tissue, including specialized pancreas cells – islets – to restore the ability of people with Type 1 diabetes to produce insulin. 

Novo Nordisk has expertise in differentiating stem cells to replace damaged cells that can lead to disease, including insulin-producing beta cells in type 1 diabetes.

Under the agreement, Novo Nordisk will get an exclusive, worldwide licence to use Aspect’s bioprinting technology to develop a number of therapeutic products for treating diabetes and obesity. 

“This partnership leverages Aspect’s full-stack tissue therapeutic platform, talented team and bold vision, and reinforces our strategy to create bioprinted tissue therapeutics through partnerships with global industry leaders while also advancing our internal therapeutic pipeline,” said Aspect CEO Tamer Mohamed.

“Novo Nordisk has built strong capabilities when it comes to producing functional and highly pure therapeutic replacement cells at the highest quality and at scale,” said Jacob Sten Petersen, corporate vice president of cell therapy research and development for Novo Nordisk.

"Collaborating with Aspect Biosystems adds an important component to our strategy to develop comprehensive cell therapy products. We are excited to co-develop solutions for cell therapy delivery that could lead to life-changing treatments for those living with a serious chronic disease.”

(This story has been updated with a correction on the total value of the agreement, originally stated to be worth $1 billion.)

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