DePuy Synthes to acquire Tissue Regeneration Systems 3-D printing technology

Source: DOTmed

DePuy Synthes Products today announced that it is acquiring 3-D printing technology from Tissue Regeneration Systems (TRS). 

The TRS methods will let DePuy Synthes create “patient-specific, bioresorbable implants with a unique mineral coating intended to support bone healing in patients with orthopedic and craniomaxillofacial deformities and injuries,” the company said in a statement.

Financial terms were not disclosed by DePuy, part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies.

"We are systematically investing in building a pipeline of 3-D-printed products," said DePuy Synthes Company Group Chairman Ciro Römer, elaborating on the latest acquisition. "The TRS technology, which will be added to the DePuy Synthes Trauma Platform, is the latest example of how we are working toward developing next-generation technologies that transform health-care delivery with individualized solutions for patients." 

This builds on DePuy Synthes' leadership in trauma, he added. 

The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies now has over 50 collaborations aimed at “harnessing 3-D printing technology to develop patient-specific health care solutions,” according to the company statement.

The two firms started their collaboration in 2014 via Johnson & Johnson Innovation, which invests across the medical device, consumer health care, and pharmaceutical sectors. 

"The acquisition of the TRS technology by DePuy Synthes is testament to our ability to identify and work collaboratively with promising early-stage companies and entrepreneurs to accelerate bringing innovative new products to market," said Robert G. Urban, Ph.D., global head, Johnson & Johnson Innovation. "We are excited at the potential this technology holds to help improve patient outcomes." 

Based in Plymouth, Michigan, TRS began in 2008 and focuses on commercializing research done at the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin in skeletal reconstruction and bone regeneration. 

Other researchers have also been developing 3-D printing approaches to surgical repair, such as a team from Mayo Clinic, who reported in February on their results creating a 3-D-printed bioabsorbable scaffold that can reconstruct ruptured anterior cruciate ligaments in the knee and deliver a protein that promotes bone regeneration. Those scaffolds were created with the use of 3-D laser stereolithography printing. 

In their study, they found that the scaffold was strong enough for their rabbit ACL reconstruction model. 

Surgical planning and patient education is already seeing growing use of 3-D printing, and, as the time it takes to create models from the data from imaging comes down, such approaches are sure to become more commonplace.

“Today, when people print organs, it can take anywhere from a week to three weeks to manipulate the data,” Jimmie Beacham, Waukesha, Wisconsin-based chief engineer for advanced manufacturing at GE Healthcare noted recently. “We want to do it with a click of a button.” 

To that end, GE researchers are now tackling the problem of developing software that can turn the enormous data files from machines like CT scanners into a printable file that can quickly produce a physical model with a 3-D printer. “We’ve already printed several organs like the liver and the lung,” he said, “It’s valuable learning.”

Such models are good for more than just patient education, as Beacham observed. “Surgeons sometimes have to repeatedly go to a workstation, look at the image on the screen and try to figure out what’s going on,” as anatomy varies between patients and can lead to rude surprises during an operation. “It slows the surgery down and increases the odds of introducing infection or slowing the patient’s recovery time.” 

For example, in February, cardiologists at Children's Hospital Los Angeles reported that they used 3-D printing to make a model of a toddler's heart from CT scans. This helped them modify a stent to repair his pulmonary arteries. 

In October, 2016, researchers at Northwestern University told HCB News that they were working on 3-D-printed, flexible, biodegradable vascular stents that are customized for each patient's body. 

"In the future, if what we propose is commonplace, one could, in theory, combine the benefits of personalized medicine with optimal medical device function," Guillermo Ameer, professor of biomedical engineering at the university, suggested.

"The surgeon could decide which drugs to include with the stent material for slow release once implanted if necessary," he added. "They would not have to only rely on the few drugs that are available in off-the-shelf stents, which may or may not be optimal for that particular patient."

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