Good technology does now no longer equate to conceivable production. This has been a longstanding reality in tissue engineering, a discipline that has been in limbo among instructional R&D and commercialization for its whole decades-lengthy existence. Now, the U.S. can thank Tom Bollenbach—a Ph.D. in biochemistry who lived that enjoy for almost 10 years—for assisting to arise a brand new and tremendously functioning Manufacturing USA institute aimed toward setting up a brand new enterprise that mass-produces human tissues and organs.
That is in line with Dean Kamen, inventor of the insulin pump and the Segway—and now government director of Armi stands for Advanced regenerative manufacturing institute.
Kamen tapped Bollenbach, now ARMI’s leader-era officer, to write down the concept for Bio Fab USA, ARMI’s Department of Defense-funded tissue and organ production program.
But his dating with Bollenbach is one in all many whom the über-related entrepreneur referred to as upon after prevailing the $eighty million in investment that seeded ARMI | BioFabUSA, a consortium of approximately a hundred and seventy organizations, instructional establishments, and corporations that works collectively to permit scalable, constant and cost-powerful production of tissues and organs.
Kamen additionally reached for the overflowing Rolodex he accumulated from founding FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a now no longer-for-earnings that for 30 years has sought to encourage younger human beings to come to be technology and era leaders and innovators.
“I even have masses of universities, lots of organizations, and masses of lots of mentors all donating their time to this cooperative enterprise,” he stated of FIRST. And most of the contributors are organizations, including Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic, that “assist FIRST collectively” notwithstanding the truth that they’re direct competition of their respective, tremendously aggressive marketplaces.
When the DoD referred to as Kamen with inside the final weeks of the Obama management to permit him to recognize ARMI gained its $eighty million grant, he hurriedly rang Rockwell Automation CEO Blake Moret.
“We’ve were given to live agnostic approximately which organ goes to win. And whilst this med faculty or that studies lab or that massive pharma enterprise says, ‘We recognize a way to do that or that or the alternative thing,’ we’re going to say, ‘Great, we’ve were given the equipment, we’ve were given the producing stuff right here. Let’s position this system and the software program into this line we installation right here to fabricate that’.” — ARMI Executive Director Dean Kamen
Creating a liver, kidney, or lung requires Rockwell Automation to do what? You ought to say nothing,” Kamen stated.
“But Rockwell makes all of the gadgets that a car manufacturing facility makes use of to make excellent automobiles continually and cost-efficaciously at excessive volume. A vehicle is a quite state-of-the-art device, and it prices much less in step with pound than a hamburger. That’s due to the fact they’re now no longer made via way of means of hand like they have been a hundred years ago.”
Moret, who is aware of a way to manufacture in volume—and who has been “a massive supporter of FIRST for years”—turned into thrilled to sign up for ARMI’s board—as have been Boston Scientific founder John Abele, Worcester Polytechnic Institute President Laurie Leshin, United Therapeutics CEO Martine Roth blatt and Dr. Jim Weinstein, the previous CEO of Dartmouth-Hitchcock who’s now the senior VP for Microsoft Healthcare, Kamen stated.
ARMI | Bio Fab USA is now going approximately the enterprise of growing “the baseline equipment via way of means of which all types of tissues and organs may be synthetic at scale,” he stated.
That prodigious attempt includes now no longer most effective automation however additionally sensing and closed-loop manner control, real-time production excellent warranty, synthetic intelligence, system mastering, and system imaginative and prescient systems—a part of the stew that makes up clever production, Kamen stated.
Rethinking ACL reconstruction
One of the primary tissues the institute is addressing is a mixture of bone and ligament a synthetic anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) derived from dwelling cells.
“It fills an opening that masses of human beings need,” he stated. “Among the most common, but not unusual procedures carried out in the United States is ACL reconstruction. If you’ve been an athletic maximum of your lifestyles and you’re now older, you’re in all likelihood going to need your knees again to a more youthful state.”
When ARMI individuals have been finally capable of meet in individual in advance of the coronavirus pandemic, Dean Kamen confirmed them this 20-foot-lengthy bench/tabletop, closed-loop machine into which one places one vial of frozen mesenchymal stem cells and forty-two days later sees as many as 10 bone-ligament-bone constructs emerge from the alternative end. It calls for no human intervention, and everyone assembled is prepared for implantation.
One member enterprise was running on it. “And their petri-dish-primarily based paintings had long past a protracted way: They had an excellent recipe,” Kamen stated. “So we stated, ‘Let’s make that the primary one we show our new abilities on’.”