Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) DePuy Synthes unit, through J&J Innovation, is partnering with Canadian biotech company Aspect Biosystems to research and make a prototype artificial meniscus using Aspect's proprietary Lab-on-a-Printer 3D-printing technology.
“We are very excited to work with a global healthcare leader like DePuy Synthes” said Tamer Mohamed, president and CEO of Aspect Biosystems, in a news release. “This collaboration marks a significant step for Aspect to apply our 3D bioprinting platform technology in developing groundbreaking tissue replacement therapies that hold the real potential to improve quality of life for patients.”
The Vancouver-based startup claims that its 3D printing technology "enables unprecedented control over biomaterial composition and structure during tissue fabrication" and thus, enables on-demand "rapid printing of macro-scale 3D structures that incorporate intricate micro-level details to generate architecturally and functionally accurate human tissues."
"Layer by layer, we're depositing real living cells, and over time form tissues," says Mohamed in a news release from the University of British Columbia. "Ultimately, we imagine a world where we're designing personalized organs."
Manufacturing customized, 3D-printed implants is performed in a growing number of orthopedic applications, including for meniscal tears, one of the most common cartilage injuries of the knee. Incidence of meniscal injuries is higher among patients aged 55 and above, and the aging population means this is one of the more attractive growth opportunities in all of orthopedics, according to Robert Pangia, CEO of Ivy Sports Medicine, which was bought by orthopedic giant Stryker in September 2016. Ivy Sports makes the only FDA-approved collagen meniscus implant (CMI) in the market.
The collaboration with Aspect is one of 15 new partnerships announced by J&J Innovation to kick-start the new year. Most of these involve R&D deals to discover new drugs and therapies to address unmet needs in areas such as depression, cancer, nuclear imaging, malaria, eye diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes. It brings the number of partnership deals forged by J&J Innovation to more than 300.
"We continue to pursue transformative healthcare solutions and form collaborations that explore the cutting edge of scientific research to achieve our primary goal of improving the quality of patients' lives," said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson, in a press release. "Through Johnson & Johnson Innovation, we are committed to identifying and advancing novel solutions in areas of significant need and creating customized deal structures with innovators in an effort to accelerate products to market."