A 3D-Printed Immune System Could Pump Out Much-Needed Covid-19 Antibodies

The fully synthetic system could be used to make antibodies for treatment and research

Yasmin Tayag
Medium Coronavirus Blog
Oct 21, 2020

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Much of the Covid-19 spotlight has been stolen by antibodies, immune molecules the body produces in response to an infection that play a key role in immunity. The blood of people who recovered from the coronavirus — known as convalescent plasma — is being investigated as a way to treat people with severe disease and even prevent future infections.

But researchers who need antibodies are largely reliant on the generosity of human donors, writes neuroscientist Lindsay Gray in Medium’s new science publication Future Human today. That’s why San Francisco-based biotech startup Prellis Biologics developed a fully artificial, 3D-printed immune system made of a constellation of synthetic lymph nodes. It managed to pump out hundreds of Covid-19 antibodies in a matter of weeks, writes Gray.

Though conversations about antibodies usually center on a single type — known as IgG — scientists studying the immune response to Covid-19 are discovering that many types of antibodies are involved. Prellis’ artificial immune system is not only a promising antibody-manufacturing machine but also a way of generating the variety of antibodies needed to battle Covid-19.

Read more from Gray on Future Human:

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Yasmin Tayag
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog. Senior editor at Future Human by OneZero. Previously: science at Inverse, genetics at NYU.