QUT visiting fellow and BridgeTech Program graduate Dr Christoph Meinert is working towards the 3D cell culture technologies he helped develop being used for personalised medicine.
It would mean that cells from a patient’s tumour could be grown in a laboratory so that chemotherapy drugs could be tested to determine the most effective treatment for that patient.
Dr Meinert is using skills developed as part of BridgeTech Program in his role as director and co-founder of Gelomics, a spin-off venture from QUT’s Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centre in Additive Biomanufacturing.
To get a better understanding of clinical trials, regulations and the substantial costs involved, Dr Meinert and Gelomics Managing Director Dr Peter Levett enrolled in BridgeTech.
BridgeTech is a national professional development program that trains researchers and entrepreneurs on how to effectively navigate the medtech commercialisation pathway.
Participants grow their networks through connection to leaders in the Australian medtech ecosystem and join an alumni of more than 250 professionals in the field.
Since graduating from BridgeTech, Dr Meinert has started producing biomaterials and kits for 3D cell culture and bioprinting, supplying about 20 local and overseas research institutions.
“Traditionally cells are cultured in a lab on two-dimensional plastic surfaces. This environment does not reflect the situation in the human body and forces cells to behave unnaturally,” Dr Meinert said.
“What we came up with was a way to grow small tissues, rather than just cells, so we are providing the opportunity for researchers to create more realistic 3D cell culture models that reflect cell behaviours in the body and provide more informative data.
“Our material is a gel-like substance very similar to the proteins that surround cells. One of its strengths is versatility. It can be modified to work with any application of cell types.
“At the moment we are supplying kits and materials to researchers, but in the longer term we want to see this used in personalised medicine.
“We would then be a medical device supplier, required to go through clinical trials, regulations, and there would be substantial costs involved.”
Dr Meinert said BridgeTech provided a level of confidence about the best way to achieve their goals for Gelomics.
“It was particularly helpful to us, meeting industry mentors who have been through similar stages in their careers, learning about funding arrangements and strategies, and how to pitch for private investment and apply for government grants.”
Additional places have been added to the 2021 BridgeTech cohort, closing on Wednesday 24 February.