Acquisitions, Mergers & PartnershipsBioprinting

CollPlant and United Therapeutics will work on 3D bioprinting of human kidneys for transplant

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CollPlant Biotechnologies and United Therapeutics Corporation are expanding their ongoing collaboration with the exercise by United Therapeutics of its option to cover a second lifesaving organ: human kidneys. United Therapeutics paid CollPlant $3 million for the option exercise.

The collaboration agreement combines CollPlant’s proprietary recombinant human collagen (rhCollagen) and BioInk technology with the regenerative medicine and organ manufacturing capabilities of United Therapeutics.

The option exercise grants United Therapeutics through its wholly-owned organ manufacturing and transplantation-focused subsidiary, Lung Biotechnology PBC, an exclusive license to CollPlant’s technology for the production and use of rhCollagen-based bioink for 3D bioprinting of human kidneys. This expanded collaboration is aimed at helping reduce global organ shortages and thereby potentially saving the lives of millions of patients on kidney waiting lists.

3D bioprinting of human kidneys
3D printed lung scaffold © 2020 United Therapeutics Corp.

“Organ shortages are an unmet global health need and by partnering with United Therapeutics for the past couple of years, we have made significant progress with this pivotal organ manufacturing initiative,” stated Yehiel Tal, the Chief Executive Officer of CollPlant. “United Therapeutics is pioneering the emerging organ manufacturing field, and we are honored to be part of this effort via this partnership. This option exercise demonstrates another important validation of our rhCollagen platform technology, performing as an optimal building block for regenerative medicine. We remain committed to exploring new innovative applications in the fields of medical aesthetics and 3D bioprinting of tissues and organs.”

“We are excited to expand our collaboration with CollPlant’s extraordinary technology to transform the tobacco plant – one that is so associated with devastating diseases – into a collagen-expressing plant that will be essential to the production of an unlimited number of transplantable organs,” said Martine Rothblatt, Ph.D., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of United Therapeutics. “Our collagen-expressing plants are already flourishing in Texas where we enjoy three growing seasons.”

The collaboration agreement itself, which was signed in October 2018, granted United Therapeutics an exclusive license to CollPlant’s technology for the production and use of rhCollagen-based BioInk for 3D bioprinted lung transplants. CollPlant will manufacture and supply BioInk for a few years to meet development process demand and will provide technical support to United Therapeutics as it establishes a U.S. facility for the manufacture of CollPlant’s rhCollagen and BioInk.

Under financial terms of the original collaboration agreement, CollPlant received an upfront payment of $5 million and will receive milestone payments of up to $15 million based on the achievement of certain operational and regulatory milestones related to the development of manufactured lungs. The agreement also provides United Therapeutics with an option to extend the license to two remaining additional life-saving organs with option exercise payments of up to $6 million. As a result of the option exercise for human kidneys these options have been extended for an additional one year through November 9, 2021. The agreement also provides additional developmental milestone payments of up to $15 million if United Therapeutics elects to develop manufactured organs other than lungs using CollPlant’s technology. CollPlant will also be entitled to royalties on sales of commercialized products covered by patents licensed from CollPlant.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites and, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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