Israeli 3D bioprinting and regenerative medicine company, CollPlant, is working on developing implants for breast tissue regeneration. After early development, the firm has successfully fabricated the prototypes. CollPlant believes that the 3D bioprinted breast implants could potentially provide a safer alternative to the traditional techniques employed for permanent breast implantation. The bioprinted breast implants consist of CollPlant’s proprietary type I “recombinant human” collagen-based bioink named ‘rhCollagen’ along with other materials. CollPlant has made massive investments in the development of rhCollagen technology, which involves the use of bioengineering plant to manufacture it.
RhCollagen is cultivated and harvested from tobacco plants engineered with five human genes after growing them for eight weeks. The leaves are processed and refined to extract purified rhCollagen. This purified collagen acts as a foundation when 3D bioprinting solid-organ scaffolds. Yehiel Tal, CEO, CollPlant, says that the implants being developed by the company use the 3D bioprinting technology and the unique characteristics of the recombinant human collagen, which has an exceptional safety profile. CollPlant has designed the breast implants so that the bioprinted scaffolds degrade, intending the natural breast tissues to grow in its place, which will not contain any foreign material. To facilitate the regenerative process, the firm has placed breast implants with fat cells obtained from the patient.
In 2017, CollPlant created an entire division to work on developing its rhCollagen bioink for 3D printing, which the company had been researching for many years. CollPlant has also received a grant for its rhCollagen research from Israel’s Ministry of Economy in 2016. CollPlant also received a $5 million investment from US venture capital firm Alpha Capital in September 2017, allowing the company’s progress in its long-term rhCollagen project. The company has also entered into a license, development, and commercialization agreement with the United Therapeutics Corporation, a biotechnology firm based in Maryland.