Aspect president and CEO Tamer Mohamed
Working with industry and other partners, the Vancouver company hopes to use its “bioprinted therapeutics” for regenerative medicine
“We’re at a stage now where we’re turning science fiction into reality,” says Tamer Mohamed. The president and CEO of Aspect Biosystems isn’t kidding. Since the Vancouver biotech company co-founded by Mohamed launched commercial operations in 2016, Aspect has steadily advanced toward the goal of implanting its 3D-printed tissues in the human body. These “bioprinted therapeutics” could have a wide range of applications in regenerative medicine—for example, a pancreatic implant that would help people with Type 1 diabetes regulate glucose levels, eliminating the need for insulin injections.
Having focused on early-stage research as a platform company that collaborated with pharmaceuticals giants and other parties worldwide, Aspect is getting serious about moving its technology into the clinic and to market. “We’re years away,” admits Mohamed, a 2018 BCBusiness 30 Under 30 winner who dropped out of his PhD studies in electrical and computer engineering at UBC to build Aspect. “But the beauty of our business is, we’re putting multiple shots on goal through our diversified portfolio of partnerships.”
Over the past several years, Aspect has worked with biopharma groups and industry partners including AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, JSR Life Sciences and Merck, as well as international research groups across North America, Europe and Asia.
To fuel its focus on investing in innovation, Aspect is expanding its team and attracting world-class talent, Mohamed says. The company, which last January announced a US$20-million Series A funding round led by Toronto-based Radical Ventures, grew from 34 to 50 employees in 2020. Over the summer, it named Eric Roos, a biotech veteran based in the industry epicentre of Boston, as chief business development officer.
Although Aspect has team members elsewhere in North America and in Europe, it cares deeply about making a global impact from Canada, Mohamed stresses. “We want to make B.C. a really special place in terms of biotech, but we also have a sense of responsibility to make sure that Aspect succeeds and we succeed here,” he says. “We’re trying to, in some ways, take over the world, but very much trying to do that from Vancouver.”