Biotechnology: Production of human tissue in space
Organoids are 3D in vitro culture systems derived from self-organizing stem cells, recapitulating the in vivo architecture, functionality, and genetic signature of original tissues. Recent developments of human patient-derived organoids have enabled disease modeling with precision, highlighting their great potential in biomedical applications, translational medicine, and personalized therapy. We developed a fully scalable biotechnological process to produce such human organoids from autologous mesenchymal stems in microgravity, where 3D growth and differentiation into complex tissues is achieved in the force-free environment. The “3D Organoids from Space” project started in 2018, when the University of Zurich and Airbus team participated in an Airbus-internal innovation competition for initial funding. The project successfully prevailed against roughly 500 other ideas. The R&D phase 2019 -2021 included extensive ground-based experiments and two production tests on the International Space Station (ISS) on board SpX-20 and SpX-23. We successfully produced cartilage, bone, and liver and neuronal tissue, validated by specific functional tissue markers and with 100% yield, which could be further cultivated longer than 30 days post-flight without loss of quality. Thus, for the first time, we have established a full production process for human tissue in microgravity.
The University of Zurich and Airbus have licensed the biotechnological process to the UZH start-up company Prometheus AG. We support the Prometheus AG strategically and in the commercialization of this technology.
Watch the Video „The Space Factory- Human Tissue from Space“ on YouTube (German with English subtitels):
Prometheus AG has won first prize in the Orbital Reef Innovation Challenge (out of hundreds of applicants) and will take a big step forward towards the first Space Factory. Led by principal partners, Blue Origin and Sierra Space, Orbital Reef will open the next chapter of human space exploration and development by facilitating the growth of a vibrant in-orbit ecosystem, a mixed-use business park and a place to live and work in Space.
Products from space
We support the planning and manufacturing of consumer products, where parts or all of the manufacturing process takes place in space. As part of a Liechtenstein joint venture project, our company has launched a commercial payload into space on November 23, 2022 at 9:23 am local time on board the SSC – Swedish Space Corporation SubOrbital Express-3 mission from ESRANGE Space Center, above the Polar Circle in Northern Sweden. The product later produced from this mission is expected to be ready for market in March 2023.
We support large Corona test centers in the fight against the Corona pandemic with the development, implementation and monitoring of SOPs in preanalytics and hygiene, quality control and staff training. We have planned and built complex point of care test centers within days and with highest medical standards. Due to our experience in building and operating field laboratories, we can set up a laboratory operation anywhere in the world in a very short time.