A Kansas City-based biomanufacturing startup announced its first international customer Tuesday: a university team in Istanbul that was among the first to beta test Ronawk’s lauded T-Blocks.
The maker of 3D cell culture products said the collaboration with Professor Ranan Aktas and the Cancer and Stem Cell Research Center at Maltepe University in Turkey will help researchers to better understand cancer development across different environmental conditions using T-Blocks.
“We love working with Professor Aktas’ group and their thoughtful feedback,” said Heather Decker, CTO and co-founder of Ronawk. “We cannot wait to see how the T-Blocks will continue to help and accelerate their research for cancer patients.”
Click here to learn why Ronawk was named one of Startland News’ 2021 Kansas City Startups to Watch.
Ronawk spun out of the University of Kansas’ Department of Plastic Surgery (KUMC) and the Bioengineering Graduate Program in 2019, gained its own manufacturing facility in 2020, and now is making an impact with researchers in 2021, emphasized A.J. Mellott, CEO and co-founder of the startup. Operating from a lab in Olathe, Ronawk was selected this summer for MassChallenge’s 50th accelerator program.
The T-Blocks product has been recognized as one of the “Coolest Things Made in Kansas” for the past two years by the Kansas Manufacturing Council, an affiliate program of the Kansas Chamber.
Aktas’ group was among 30 pilot studies across the globe that sought to use Ronawk’s bioprinting technologies to develop products that simplify and modernize cell culture practices to accelerate research across virtually all disease specialties. The follow-up purchase of T-Blocks for current and future studies by Maltepe University is a major milestone for Ronawk, Mellott added.
T-Blocks (Tissue-Blocks) enable researchers to rapidly expand growth of cells — up to one trillion at a time.
“T-blocks have provided an excellent opportunity to investigate the effects of the change in the stiffness of the microenvironment on liver cancer cells and cancer stemness,” said Aktas, describing her team’s interest in the technology. “We will present our first data during the Liver Meeting in Boston and continue creating different micro-environments using T-blocks with various stiffness. We already learned a lot from T- blocks and would love to gather more information using those well-designed 3D scaffolds.”
Click here to read more about the Olathe startup and it’s plan to launch a STEM training facility and create 150 jobs over next seven years.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.