Acquisitions, Mergers & PartnershipsBiomaterialsBioprintingRegenerative Medicine

Why and how DDD is focusing on healthcare after solid-organ scaffolds’ success

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3D Systems significantly expanded its focus on regenerative medicine and bioprinting solutions after reducing its workforce to concentrate on the healthcare AM sector. The expanded focus follows on great progress made in the development of 3D printing systems for solid-organ scaffolds. This progress is the product of collaboration between 3D Systems, United Therapeutics Corporation and UTC’s organ manufacturing and transplantation-focused subsidiary, Lung Biotechnology PBC. 3D Systems intends to leverage this work and accomplishments with other partners to invest, further develop and commercialize solutions for regenerative medicine. Applications of its R&D program include the development of non-solid organ applications requiring biologically sustainable vasculature.

The partnership between 3D Systems and United Therapeutics achieved significant progress through 2020. The pair developed an AM platform solution for lung scaffolds capable of full-size, vascularized, rapid, micron-level printing. This Print to Perfusion process can be perfused with living cells to create tissues. The ability to print large, vascularized, highly detailed hydrogel scaffolds at rapid speeds is now opening new opportunities for a range of tissue applications.

3D printed lung scaffold © 2020 United Therapeutics Corp.

3D Systems advances these efforts by expanding its high-speed Figure 4 technology by focusing further on bioprinting and regenerative medicine. Building upon these capabilities, the company will work alongside its partners to create bioprinting and regenerative medicine applications. There exist further suggestions that these capabilities have the potential to enable novel laboratory testing methods, which could accelerate the development of new drug therapies while reducing the need for animal testing.

United Therapeutics Corporation also worked with CollPlant Biotechnologies to expand 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 granted 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 bioprinted soft tissue implant printed using 3D Systems’ high-resolution SLA bioprinter and BioInk based on CollPlant’s rhCollagen

In 2020 3D Systems entered into a joint development partnership with CollPlant, to leverage 3D Systems’ expertise in 3D printing and healthcare applications and CollPlant’s deep knowledge of bioinks to jointly develop tissue and scaffold bioprinting processes for third party collaborators.

The partnership’s overall goal has been to develop bioprinting technologies in order to advance regenerative medicine research. The companies are determined to create an integrated bioprinting solution (or solutions) targeted specifically at printing tissues and scaffolds for regenerative medicine applications.

Through the collaboration, 3D Systems and CollPlant both have access to the former’s 3D printers and the latter’s BioInks, as well as new formulations of rhCollagen-based inks developed jointly by the companies. The combination of printing technology and materials can be leveraged for their own products as well as by third parties.

At the time, Yehiel Tal, CEO of CollPlant, explained: ”We strongly believe that our proven rhCollagen is the finest building block for regenerative medicine tissues and scaffolds available today. As the leading additive manufacturing printing solutions company, 3D Systems is the perfect partner for us. Together, we can offer the best-combined technology for 3D bioprinting. We are honored to have established this important collaboration and we look forward to working together to advance 3D bioprinting technology to the commercial phase.”


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Adam Strömbergsson

Adam is a legal researcher and writer with a background in law and literature. Born in Montreal, Canada, he has spent the last decade in Ottawa, Canada, where he has worked in legislative affairs, law, and academia. Adam specializes in his pursuits, most recently in additive manufacturing. He is particularly interested in the coming international and national regulation of additive manufacturing. His past projects include a history of his alma mater, the University of Ottawa. He has also specialized in equity law and its relationship to judicial review. Adam’s current interest in additive manufacturing pairs with his knowledge of historical developments in higher education, copyright and intellectual property protections.

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