Cambridge-based BiologIC Technologies is helping pharmaceutical manufacturers support from Analysis for Innovators (A4I) programme
R&D partnership with National Measurement Laboratory (NML) accelerates product development by several years
An Innovate UK-backed biotech company has achieved a pioneering biocomputer breakthrough which is accelerating the development and manufacture of cheaper drugs and vaccines.
BiologIC Technologies, inventor of the world’s first biocomputer, has developed 3D printed ‘lab-on-a-chip’ platforms – miniaturised devices that integrate multiple laboratory functions onto a single chip.
These enable faster, more efficient, and cost-effective analysis of biological samples, with applications ranging from drug testing to point-of-care diagnostics.
Thanks to Analysis for Innovators (A4I), a grant funding programme run by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, BiologIC was able to access the expertise and advanced equipment of the National Measurement Laboratory (NML) hosted at LGC.
As a result the Cambridge-based company has achieved a massive leap in its understanding of how the plastic materials used in 3D printing the chips interact with biological applications.
It is now able to demonstrate greater biocompatibility and stability of its ‘lab-on-a-chip’ which means pharmaceutical manufacturers and Contract, Design and Manufacturing Organisations (CDMOs) can now speed up the work needed before developing minimum viable products, which will ultimately lead to faster time-to-market and cheaper drugs and vaccines.
Commenting on BiologIC’s experience of the A4I programme, Dr Colin Barker, Chief Scientific Officer at BiologIC Technologies, said: “Without access to the high-end analytics, and, more critically, the world class expertise at NML made possible through the A4I funding, it would likely have taken us several years to achieve the same insights.
“We’ve already taken the learning we’ve gained from the grant and applied it in real time. We have several active projects, where we have directly applied our new knowledge to improve customer outcomes. This grant directly led to an increase in our understanding, which has had an immediate impact, and greater commercial success.”
3D printed materials, without any post-processing, simply do not support reproducible biology.
For BiologIC to support its customers in developing and manufacturing high-quality biological products, it had to first understand the chemical interactions between the 3D printed materials and biological samples.
“By the nature of them being 3D printable materials, they’re very reactive,” Barker explained. “And so, part of Biologic’s proprietary know-how is how to take those materials and treat them to make them biocompatible. But that’s a very complex, very slow process.”
But the pioneering technology company – which has been taking products to market since 2020 – did not have the funds or specific expertise required for full investigation of these interactions.
“Our customers are trying to produce advanced biology products at scale with robust reproducibility,” Barker added. “The greater understanding of our materials through the A4I grant allows us to standardise and streamline our production methodologies, delivering reproducible results at a lower cost.
“Personalised medicines by their nature don’t have economies of scale, and price tags can run into millions of pounds per patient. The BiologIC platform provides the paradigm shift in automation technologies required to enable disruptive economics and democratise access to these new therapies.”
The BiologIC platform is already generating value for advanced developers at customer sites. The BiologIC team works closely with customers to create custom configurations of its platform, addressing customer challenges including increasing yield, process robustness and scale.
Analysis for Innovators (A4I), run by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, helps businesses access cutting-edge R&D and expertise of skills and equipment at nine national measurement centres across the country. The grant funding is also extended to all or some of the project costs.
Simon Yarwood, Knowledge Transfer Manager – Industrial Technologies, A4I at Innovate UK KTN, said: “The transformation of BiologIC is yet another success story generated by A4I. It is an effective demonstration of how we empower companies to boost their productivity and their competitiveness by solving difficult technical analysis-type problems that maybe they’ve been battling with for some time.
“And we introduce them to some unique partner organisations, like NML, who have world class skills and unique facilities. That allows them to look at problems in a new way, and then help solve them.”
A4I has been running since 2016 and brings together nine national centres of excellence in measurement, tackling challenges affecting existing processes, products or services. Across nine rounds of funding, it has supported over 250 companies resulting in over £600M of benefit for those businesses, such as increased productivity and turnover, reduced waste, and the creation of new and upskilled jobs.
To learn more about how A4I can help your business and to read more success stories from the programme visit A4I.info