XPECT INX goes (Up)nano by launching its first multiphoton lithography bioink

With the launch of X Hybdrobio INX© U200, 3D printing of structures containing living cells at both the meso- and microscale becomes possible for the first time. This can be achieved by using the bioink in combination with the NanoOne Bio-printer by Upnano GmbH (Vienna, Austria) for which it was specifically developed. The new bioink is the result of years of expertise in the field of multiphoton lithography at both XPECT INX (Ghent, Belgium) and Upnano. X Hydrobio INX© U200 is offered as a ready-to-use kit through Upnano, making it the only commercially available resin that allows embedding living cells straight from a culture plate within highly precise 3D-printed structures. With this achievement, replicating the complicated natural microarchitecture of living tissues and organs is one step closer to reality.

Two-dimensional cell cultures have been the standard in pharmaceutical preclinical R&D and in biomedical research in general, for many decades. However, growing evidence demonstrates that these models poorly represent the cellular interaction at the 3D level in living systems. Therefore, drug development based on 2D systems is often misguided, resulting in billions of dollars of unfruitful R&D costs. So far, building complex and highly precise 3D structures with embedded living cells has been hampered by lack of suitable materials and printing systems. Thanks to the joint development of a novel hydrogel-based Bioink by Xpect INX and Upnano in combination with the new 2PP bioprinter by UpNano this endeavour has now turned into reality.

The Symbiosis between Machines & Materials

The combination of the competences of UpNano, expert in developing 3D-printing devices and Xpect INX expert in innovative materials for 3D-printing provided the perfect symbiosis for these new developments”, comments Jasper Van Hoorick, project lead at XPECT INX. “By combining the X Hydrobio INX© U200 bioink kit with the high performance 2PP 3D-printing technology of Upnano, a new field of biological applications opens up.”

X Hydrobio INX© U200 is a water-soluble hydrogel that allows transfer of cell cultures from 2D culture plates into complex 3D structures. “The gelatin-based X Hydrobio INX© U200 has been specifically developed for the encapsulation of multiple cell types thereby allowing the generation of complex 3D microtissues” says Jasper Van Hoorick, project lead at Xpect INX. “The hydrogel mimics the natural cellular environment and is biodegradable, thereby allowing the cells to gradually substitute the material with newly formed tissue.” The technology solves many issues encountered with standard growth media on which cell cultures have been incubated in a 2D manner. Following this, the hydrogel containing living cells can be directly fed into the NanoOne Bio – a highly precise 2PP 3D-printer developed by UpNano. Extensive research showed that the 780 nm red light laser of the NanoOne Bio is not harmful to living cells, even at the exceptionally high power used by the NanoOne printers. In fact, the high laser power which is unique to UpNano’s 2PP 3D-printing systems, allows for the use of optics that enable the fast production of cm large structures with exceptionally high precision, up to nanoscale.

Cells encapsulated in small sized scaffold via MPL using Hydrobio U200

Industry & Academia

The combination of X Hydrobio INX© U200 and the NanoOne Bio opens up completely new possibilities in biomedical R&D, both in industry and academia. “A bio-ink resin enabling cell encapsulation at the microscale is a crucial tool for the generation of representative organ-on-chip models, as it allows combination of multiple cell types with the same architectural complexity as found in living tissues” says Agnes Dobos, Application specialist at XPECT INX. Production of organs-on-chip will now be possible not only with an unprecedented precision, but also directly with embedded living cells – thereby saving time and improving the significance of the results. Surface structures resembling natural tissues (biomimetic structures) can now be created, allowing for near natural interaction between the living cells and their growth environment. “Cells growing in 2D on a culture plate on standard growth media encounter a far from natural physical environment and a lack of interaction with surrounding cells in all directions, as observed in living tissues.” explains Denise Mandt, Head of Marketing and Business Development and co-founder of UpNano. It has been shown that such lack of 3D cell-to-cell-contact causes unnatural differentiation of cells – a problem that has been acknowledged in biomedical R&D, as it negatively impacts the interpretation of results gained in cell models for human applications.

The NanoOne Bio in combination with the newly developed X Hydrobio INX© U200 kit will significantly change this approach. Pharmaceutical companies and research institutions will be in the position to design cell models that mimic natural growth conditions in the human body. In fact, the NanoOne Bio allows the production of surface structures with highest precision and/or the design of complex 3D-scaffolding with embedded cells in the cm-range. Thanks to specific optical pathways, optimized scan algorithms and a proprietary adaptive resolution technology, the NanoOne systems also offer significant faster production times than other systems – advantages that have been recognized by customers on industry and academia alike. The range-extension for customers in biomedical research has already been met with great interest. To be able to further serve this growing market, X hydrobio INX© U200 is the first product of an entire 2PP-based product line from Xpect INX which will be further developed in the coming months.

About UpNano (January 2021)

Founded in September 2018 as a spin out of the TU Wien, UpNano is a Vienna-based high-tech company with the focus on development, manufacturing and commercialization of high-resolution 3D-printing systems based on 2-photon polymerization. With the first commercial product, the printing system NanoOne, microparts with structure details ≥170 nm can be printed. Due to the very fast printing process, also meso scale parts up to several centimetres in height can be realized.

About Xpect INX

Xpect INX is a spin-off project from Ghent University focusing on the development of biomaterials for 3D-bioprinting applications. Based on years of experience in bio-ink development, Xpect INX offers and develops a whole range of ready to use (bio)inks for different 3D-printing technologies, including 2PP, DLP and deposition based 3D-printing.

Contact Upnano

Denise Mandt

Head Marketing & Business Development, Founder

Modecenterstrasse 22, D36

1030 Vienna, Austria

  +43 (0) 1 8901652

   +43 (0) 676 3943728






Contact Xpect INX

Jasper Van Hoorick

Project lead

Krijgslaan 281 S4

9000 Ghent, Belgium

  +32 (0) 499169894