While bioprinting is providing a lot of new capabilities to researchers, there are very few companies offering printed transplants. The field is relatively young, so organs are still complex parts to develop. Some even deemed it a distant dream, too young at this time. However, Israel-based Collplant have been developing novel approaches to bioinks for quite a while. Their latest developments in bioprinting lungs has caught the eye of the United Therapeutics Corporation of Maryland and now both companies have signed a license, development and commercialization agreement moving forward.
Collplant are a regenerative medicine company focusing on 3D bioprinting of tissues and organs. The company developed proprietary recombinant human collagen (rhCollagen) derived from engineered tobacco plants and unique bioink mixtures. In combination with regenerative medicine and organ manufacturing capabilities of United Therapeutics subsidiary Lung Biotechnology PBC, they will be able to follow the research through with sufficient resources.
“We are excited to work with CollPlant’s extraordinary Israeli technology to transform the tobacco plant that is so associated with lung disease into a collagen-expressing plant that will be essential to the production of an unlimited number of transplantable lungs,” said United Therapeutics Chairwoman and CEO Martine Rothblatt.
Bioprinted Lungs and Tobacco Derived Collagen?
While the process is novel and it offers multiple applications outside of lungs. There are also many advantages to deriving the collagen from tobacco. As the company states on its website:
“1. No immunogenic response. Turns out that human collagen produced from genetically modified tobacco does not trigger an immunogenic response.
2. Tobacco extracted recombinant human collagen type I forms thermally stable helical structures and brillates. It’s bioactivity, as confirmed with its human clinical trials, resembles native human collagen.
3. Very homogenous. Being plant derived, its molecular structure is more “pure” than either cadaveric or xenografic collagen. One theoretical advantage is a shorter patient recovery time.
4. No disease or pathogen transmission.
5. It takes tobacco just eight weeks to grow to harvestable size, lower prices, higher volumes (in theory).”
While the deal still requires approval from Israel Innovation Authority, who will make sure it meets certain closing conditions, it’s one of the most promising applications of bioprinting yet. The company is also producing a whole range of medical applications for multiple sub-fields. Orthopedics, tissue regeneration and bandage production all play a role in the companies operations as well.