Two major companies, CollPlant and United Therapeutics Corporation, recently announced the intention to enter into a licensing, development and commercialization agreement.
The deal between the two companies is focusing on 3D bioprinted lung transplants. It is a partnership that will take advantage of United Therapeutics’ ability to manufacture organs and its expertise in regenerative medicine.
CollPlant brings BioInk and its proprietary recombinant human collagen technology to the table.
3D Bioprinted Lung Transplants
Additive manufacturing is a process that creates three-dimensional objects based on computer files. These objects can be made out of various materials, which is why additive manufacturing has become a viable option for “printing” organs and tissues.
Patients who are suffering from chronic and life-threatening conditions, including lung cancer or other lung-related diseases, are often unable to get an organ through the donor system.
The wait for organs is typically many years, with patients unable to make it that far. Moreover, other patients may not be a good candidate for an organ donation, based on their age and medical history.
While an artificial organ has never been transplanted into a human being, much research has been done on the subject. A recent story revealed that scientists at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh had managed to create lungs in the lab and transplant them into pigs.
CollPlant Holdings Ltd is a company focused on regenerative medicine. The company develops and commercializes 3D bioprinting of organs and tissues. It services markets including the United States, Canada, and Europe.
All the products that CollPlant produces are based on rhCollagen, which is a type I human collagen based on its plant-based genetic engineering technology. The company recently won a grant in Israel, providing it with roughly $1.2 million to use its rhCollagen-based formulations as BioInk to 3D print tissues and organs.
United Therapeutics is a biotech company founded in 1996, based out of Maryland. The company focuses on developing and commercializing products related to the medical needs of patients who are suffering life-threatening or chronic conditions.
Its most famous products include Remodulin, Tyvaso, and Orenitram. Remodulin is used to help diminish symptoms associated with pulmonary arterial hypertension. Tyvaso helps these patients exercise, while Orenitram is another drug that boosts the exercise-capability of PAH patients.
CollPlant has stood by its proprietary recombinant human collagen technology, rhCollagen, as the best building block for regenerative medicine scaffolds. Moreover, the company feels that its technology will play a critical role in any organ manufacturing taking place in the coming years.
United Therapeutics now has exclusive license to use the technology of rhCollagen for the purposes of 3D bioprinting solid-organ scaffolds, which will eventually be used for human transplants.
Moreover, CollPlant will be responsible for manufacturing and supplying BioInk, which is necessary to meet the demands of developing these 3D printed organ scaffolds. The company is planning to establish a facility in the United States that will be dedicated to manufacturing BioInk and rhCollagen.
3D Printing and the Medical Industry
There is a long history between the additive manufacturing and medical industries. While the mainstream commercial uses of 3D printers are still unclear, it is evident that sectors such as the medical industry are taking full advantage.
3D printable prosthetics were the first advancement made thanks to additive manufacturing. In the past, patients had to wait months or years before they got a proper prosthetic to replace a limb they lost. Moreover, many were unable to afford the prosthetics that cost tens of thousands of dollars.
It all changed with additive manufacturing. Many think the days of 3D printing lungs and putting them in a human are far away. But additive manufacturing has already allowed so much advancement in the medical industry. It may only be a matter of time before a 3D printed lung is placed in a human.