The first human knee meniscus has been successfully 3D printed by Redwire Space on the International Space Station.

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Redwire Corporation has achieved a groundbreaking milestone in the field of bioprinting by successfully 3D printing a human knee meniscus in space. This achievement was made possible through the use of Redwire’s upgraded 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF) on the International Space Station (ISS). The company believes that this development has significant implications for human health and could lead to improved treatments for meniscal injuries, which are one of the most common injuries for U.S. Service Members.

The upgraded BioFabrication Facility was launched to the ISS in November 2022, and in March 2023, Redwire announced its intention to 3D print a human meniscus on board. According to Redwire Executive Vice President John Vellinger, successfully printing complex tissue like the meniscus is a major leap forward in the development of a repeatable microgravity manufacturing process for reliable bioprinting on a large scale.

The printed meniscus was analyzed after successful print operations in July and was cultured for 14 days on the ISS in RedWire’s Advanced Space Experiment Processor (ADSEP) before returning to Earth on the SpaceX Crew-6 Mission for further analysis. The printing process was part of the BFF-Meniscus-2 Investigation conducted in collaboration with the Uniformed Services University of Health Services Center for Biotechnology (4D Bio3), a biomedical research center focused on exploring and adapting biotechnologies for the benefit of warfighters.

The BioFabrication Facility is one of Redwire’s many technologies and capabilities that enable human spaceflight missions and commercial microgravity research and development in low-Earth orbit. Redwire has already developed 20 research facilities for the ISS, with 10 currently operational. The company aims to increase the production of critical technologies that support human spaceflight missions and commercial microgravity research.

In line with this goal, Redwire has also announced plans to open a state-of-the-art microgravity payload development facility at the Novaparke Innovation and Technology Campus in Indiana. This facility will have a mission operations center and will further enhance Redwire’s capabilities in supporting space research and development.

Looking ahead, Redwire has exciting plans for future missions. On the SpaceX CRS-29 resupply mission to the ISS in November 2023, the company will be launching microgravity research payloads focused on pharmaceutical drug development and regenerative medicine. One of the experiments will involve bioprinting cardiac tissue, further pushing the boundaries of what is possible in space bioprinting.

In conclusion, Redwire’s successful 3D bioprinting of a human knee meniscus in space is a significant accomplishment with far-reaching implications for human health. This milestone not only opens the door to improved treatments for meniscal injuries but also paves the way for advanced in-space bioprinting capabilities. Redwire’s commitment to advancing technology and supporting space research and development positions them as a leader in the industry, and we can expect to see more exciting innovations from them in the future.

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