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Q&A: Stratasys and CollPlant unite technologies for bioprinting

After Stratasys announced their collaboration with CollPlant on the development of a solution to bio-fabrication human tissues and organs using Stratasys' P3 technology-based bioprinter and CollPlant's rhCollagen-based bioinks, Medical Plastics News spoke to Erez Ben Zvi, vice president medical at Stratasys to find out more.

× 1. How did the collaboration with CollPlant come about?  We have known each other for quite some time, and the collaboration came about through mutual recognition that by joining forces, we could combine our expertise and together accelerate the industrialisation of bioprinting for regenerative medicine. 

2. What bioplastics will be used for the implants?  The implants will utilise CollPlant’s plant-based human Type I collagen (rhCollagen) which CollPlant produces at scale. This material is derived from plants and is identical to the collagen produced by the human body. It serves as an ideal building block for regenerative medicine. rhCollagen has several advantages over tissue extracted collagen including: better bio-functionality — it accelerates human cell proliferation and has faster tissue healing; superior homogeneity — it has controlled physical/rheological properties, reproducibility, and transparency; improved safety and greater purity, making it non-immunogenic, non-allergenic, not pathogen bearing, and eliciting no foreign body response. 

3. How are these implants different to others on the market?  These implants differentiate themselves by focusing on tissue regeneration rather than tissue replacement. Current breast reconstruction methods involve synthetic implants or autologous fat tissue transfer, which do not regenerate a person's own tissue. The implants developed through the collaboration with CollPlant aim to regenerate an individual's natural breast tissue, providing a more natural and personalised outcome. 

4. What technology will you be using - what are the benefits of this compared to others?  We will be utilising our P3 3D printing technology, which is an advancement on DLP (Digital Light Processing) and has a great fit with CollPlant’s materials. The P3 printer offers high-resolution, precise process control, and is well-suited for medical applications. The benefits of this technology include the ability to achieve high-quality, accurate prints, enabling the production of implants with improved precision and performance. 

Other organisations are following a route of surgical matrixes derived from cadavers and animals. These are associated with high costs, supply shortage and batch-to-batch variability and CollPlant has determined that Stratasys P3 technology is a better fit for the application. 

5. Could you please discuss the development of the solution to bio fabrication?  The development of our biofabrication solution involves a comprehensive R&D program. Reproducing complex organs via bioprinting requires advancements far beyond the capabilities of existing technologies and materials. The path to clinical use will pass through an array of ethical, regulatory, and technical challenges. We believe that a bioprinter platform could be ready for research and development purposes in the next 1-3 years. 

This is our entry point to regenerative medicine and we believe that solutions that replace artificial materials with a person’s natural regenerated tissue is the way to go. We have all the reasons to believe our printing technology is a good fit for the current need and have already seen solid results in our early development efforts. With the development of the first platform, we intend to learn, gain experience and set our standing at a pivotal position while the market continues to evolve. 

The 3D bioprinting market is growing at nearly 19% annually and is expected to reach $8.3 billion by 2030 according to Precedence Research. Meanwhile IMARC Group estimates show the global breast implant market is at $2.6 billion — so the opportunity is huge. 

6. Will the use of the P3 printer change the quality/texture of the implants? How/why?  Our P3 technology offers high resolution and process control, ensuring precise printing of CollPlant's bioink materials. This enables us to produce implants with consistent quality and properties, resulting in a natural and desirable texture. 

7. Is this the first time working with breast implants?  While this is our first collaboration with CollPlant specifically for breast implants, we have been involved in the development of other medical solutions in the past. This partnership allows us to leverage CollPlant's expertise in regenerative medicine and combine it with our additive manufacturing capabilities to create innovative solutions. 

8. You say they are “being designed to regenerate an individual’s natural breast tissue without eliciting immune response” could you please elaborate on this?  CollPlant's rhCollagen, the primary material used in the implants, has several advantages over tissue-extracted collagen. It has better bio-functionality, accelerates human cell proliferation, and promotes faster tissue healing. Additionally, it is non-immunogenic, non-allergenic, and does not elicit an immune response. This means that the implants have a reduced risk of adverse reactions, making them safer and more compatible with the individual's body. 

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Publication date: 13/06/2023

Medical Plastics News


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.