Israeli regenerative medical materials developer CollPlant is to move ahead with its long-term “rhCollagen” project of developing 3D printed transplantable organs, thanks to a $5 million investment from US venture capital firm Alpha Capital in September.
This news comes after CollPlant established an entire division dedicated to 3D printing in May of this year. CollPlant also filed a US patent earlier this year for its 3D printable bio-ink, which is capable of being 3D printed as organs and tissues.
CollPlant bio-prints human tissue using its own “rhCollagen” (recombinant human collagen) technology. The process involves genetically engineering tobacco seedlings, where they are grown over 8 weeks. The tobacco leaves are then harvested, processed and refined until rhCollagen can be extracted.
Compared to the current tissue-derived collagen available CollPlant states that rhCollagen offers “improved bio-functionality, superior homogeneity and reduced risk of immune response”. Collplant also states its rhCollagen is also more homogenous and less viscous compared to tissue derived collagen.
The homogeneity of rhCollagen means that it can produce fibres and membranes with molecules oriented in the same direction. This molecular arrangement makes it ideal for creating gels, sponges, and ink for 3D printing, where the collagen can be used as “scaffold” for tissue repair.
A $5 million injection
Alpha capital’s investment, which reportedly doubled CollPlant’s share price, is likely to escalate the production of 3D printed bio-ink, and make 3D printed organs for transplants available sooner. After the investment was confirmed CollPlant CEO Yehiel Tal stated that CollPlant would “continue to advance our pipeline, including a novel rhCollagen-based BioInk for 3D printing of tissues and organs”.
This week, CollPlant has announced a six-month work plan for the development of an orthopedic implant prototype using its bio-ink, in partnership with a yet unnamed “leading medical devices company”.
While the company did not divulge any further details, Yehiel Tal hinted at significant developments, stating, “our unique tissue repair technology may represent a potential paradigm shift in the field of regenerative medicine, and we look forward to raising CollPlant’s profile and expanding our shareholder base through an up-listing to the NASDAQ Exchange”.
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Featured image shows rhCollagen bio-ink being 3D printed. Photo via CollPlant.