There are a few companies that immediately come to mind when 3D bioprinting is mentioned- Organovo and EnvisionTEC among them, for example. But bioprinting isn’t just the domain of a few – there are many, many organizations out there working with living tissue using 3D printing technologies. One of those companies is REGEMAT 3D, a Spanish startup focused on regenerative medicine.
REGEMAT 3D is pioneering the development of bioprinting technologies. The Spanish company thinks that the advantages and potential of the technology are countless but still there is a lot of work to do and milestones to solve. It is a great time to get involved in this area as a researcher, and the number is increasing during the last year as well as the results and solutions.
REGEMAT 3D’s founder and CEO José Manuel Baena isn’t new to 3D printing; he also founded BRECA Health Care in 2011, which was responsible for one of the first 3D printed implants. Baena thinks that the combination of synthetic 3D printed implants and bioprinted materials has a lot of potential for injury regeneration
“In the past if you wanted to do a reconstruction using biomaterials that biodegrade, you were restricted by the geometry and performance of sized medical devices,” he said. “Now with 3D printing you can offer a customized solution combining a synthetic medical device with a biodegradable bioprinted one and even autologous cells of the patient to enhance the regeneration. Even if you could create in the lab a functional tissue, the integration with the surrounding tissues is not going to occur instantly. A custom made synthetic medical device will help to hold the structure and promote the integration of the bioprinted living tissue. There is a lot of opportunities and applications of bioprinting in the short term, even without the printing of living cells.”
REGEMAT 3D’s bioprinting platform consists of hardware, an electronic control unit, and software, and is customized to every individual application
“There are another bioprinting companies that are selling this kind of machines ‘in batch’ saying that with one system you can print many different tissues. This is not true,” said Baena. “Also bioprinting as 3D printing is a wide range of technologies not just one. Researchers want to innovate, they want to create unique things, in accordance they need and unique system. A bioprinter is not a microwave.”
The original version of the platform was designed to treat cartilage degeneration and degenerative joint diseases, due to the frequency of these types of ailments. In the last three years the company has expanded the use of the system to other tissue applications. Drug development is another area of interest. If a user needs a bioprinter for another application, however, they only need to specify what and REGEMAT 3D will develop a system to meet their needs. REGEMAT 3D, which is based in Granada, was founded in 2015 following a project on cartilage cells carried out from 2011 to 2013 by Baena and Professor JA Marchal at the Regenerative Medicine Institute (IBIMER), Centre for Biomedical Research (CIBM), University of Granada. The company now has systems in more than 20 countries and continues to expand.
“We focus on quality, not on quantity. We get involved in the research project with our users,” said Baena. “For us it is not about to sell as many bioprinters as we can, is about to get results that help us to bring from lab to bed as many as innovative therapies as we can. There are still many milestones to overcome in bioprinting to create functional tissues, Don’t be fooled by the current hype. We are working on that. We were already successful in bringing 3D printed implants and prosthesis with BRECA Health Care to the clinical application and the results are incredible. It is a matter of time and effort.”
[Images: REGEMAT 3D]