NC State University Industrial and Systems Engineering Addresses Roadblocks to Commercialization
As remarkable advancements in lab-created organs and tissues continue, the challenge becomes how to move the technology from the laboratory to the operating room. NC State University’s Industrial and Systems Engineering (NC State ISE) is the only university exploring manufacturing platforms to scale up tailored tissue development.
Developing a way to mass produce customized lab-created organs and tissues would benefit patients around the world who must wait for donated organs to receive transplants. NC State ISE engineers are partnering with biomedical scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM). Together, the institutions are creating advancements in 3-D technology, computer-aided modeling and intelligent automation to print tissues and organs for patients. With their focus on precision, computer modeling and 3-D printing will help scientists scale up the tissue engineering processes currently being done by hand.
What are the challenges to commercialization? The future of organs-on-demand requires the mass production of precise parts that are specific to each individual recipient. The development involves the combination of cells and a scaffold, or a model that forms the basic shape. The support structure is designed to gradually disintegrate after implantation in the body. At the same time the scaffolding material is being absorbed by the body, the cells lay down materials to form a permanent support structure – gradually replacing the engineered scaffold with a new organ.
Top corporate and education leaders in engineering, science and medicine will gather at this year’s Regenerative Medicine Foundation Conference, May 5-7, in San Francisco to share firsthand accounts of their visions and challenges of bio-tissue manufacturing. Dr. Binil Starly, Director of NC State ISE’s Laboratory for Engineering Biological Tissue Systems, uses bioprinting to design methods for mass producing engineered tissue and will also share insight into the latest developments, including a patent-pending process, which is collaboration between WFIRM and NCSU, for providing replacement skin for burn victims.
“It is one thing to be able to grow an organ but another to take that ability to the bedside, so involving manufacturing engineers early on in the biological research phase is vital to achieving commercialization,” said Starly. “NC State ISE reviews the scientific process for growing tissue cells, and then applies 3-D technologies and algorithms to automate it, so a very sensitive biological process can be replicated safely and effectively.”
Dr. Anthony Atala, renowned director of WFIRM and NC State ISE advisory board member, will moderate a panel on commercialization of regenerative medicine therapies. WFIRM scientists have developed lab-grown organs, such as bladders, vaginal organs and urine tubes successfully used in patients.