, WA — Puget Sound Health Care System’s VA Ventures is bringing its recipe for 3-dimensional bioprinting of vascularized bone tissue to the point of care through a partnership with Advanced Solutions Life Sciences.
“Dr. Beth Ripley and the VA Puget Sound VA Ventures team are fearless and focused on delivering the very best health care innovation. The partnership has empowered, encouraged and supported our medical, engineering and scientific teams to collaborate in a way that uses the latest technologies to develop breakthrough patient solutions,” said Advanced Solutions President and CEO Michael Golway. “BioBone is a great example of the innovative work product the teams are creating. BioBone was designed and developed with VA surgeons to meet their requirements for an implantable bone that is non-synthetic, vascularized and 3D bio printable.”
According to the Institutes of Health, a couple of million bone grafts are performed every year across the world to address bone defects, non-healing fractures, osteodegenerative and tumor diseases. In 2020, VA performed nearly 400 mandible (mouth/jaw) tumor resection, craniofacial reconstruction and bone harvesting surgeries for cancer patients and Veterans with chronic facial injuries or infections that could have benefited from 3D printing innovations—a market predicted to be $4 billion in the U.S. by 2028.
Historically, autografts—or the bone harvesting from one part of the body and grafted onto another part of the body to replace the damaged tissues—has been the gold standard. Unfortunately, the surgeries usually take 10 hours or more, taking a heavy toll on the patient. Other drawbacks include donor site availability and donor-site morbidity. As such, there is a growing interest in bone graft substitutes to reduce those challenges and meet the increased demand.
Customized bone tissue grafts at the point of care
For VA Ventures, the future of using 3D printing to build constructs from each patient’s own cells, matched to their anatomy and defect geometry will soon be a reality, offering customized bone tissue grafts at the point of care.
“The use of bioprinting to address health care needs is very exciting for patients around the world and the teams delivering their care. And what sets us apart from others is we are doing this in the clinical setting, not just in a lab,” said VA Ventures Director Dr. Beth Ripley. “From the very start, we sit down with our surgeons, cardiologists, radiologists, engineers, designers and industry players to better understand unique requirements. And every step of the way the needs of our Veterans continue to be front and center.”
The 3D printed bone construct requires subsequent conditioning to form a bony, mechanically sound graft for use in a reconstruction procedure. Most reconstruction procedures also require relevant soft tissue components, such as muscle, skin, and vasculature, to fully reconstruct the face; the VA team is planning to leverage tissue banking to address these requirements, establishing a more useful bone graft that could be employed as a leashed or vascularized free flap—depending on the site of banking.
Perhaps most exciting, the fabrication strategy for the 3D printed grafts is designed to be done at the point of care in every hospital, removing challenges of shipping and transport, and maximizing the ability to incorporate autologous cells (collected from the patient’s blood) into the graft.
For patients, this means less time under anesthesiology, less surgeries, higher bone healing ability and enhanced health outcomes.
“While we are still working on our 3D printed bone tissue recipe, results have been extremely promising,” said Dr. Ripley. “Now, we are focused on how to accelerate the time it takes to grow the bone, ensure vascularization to support successful implantation and optimize our rigorous quality checks so we are able to bring the recipe successfully through the regulatory process.”
More detailed information about VA Ventures development of 3D printed bone tissues appears in the peer-reviewed article, “A biofabrication strategy for a custom-shaped, non-synthetic bone graft precursor with a prevascularized tissue shell” in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fbioe.2022.838415/full).
In just three years, the VA has been able to grow its 3D printing efforts from three facilities—VA Puget Sound is the flagship—to more than 40. The VA Ventures team continues to work with a diverse network of partners in the academic and private sectors to identify, develop, and promote rapid commercialization of innovative solutions, such as bioprinting, artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics, augmented and virtual reality, and rural access.
About VA Puget Sound and VA Ventures
VA Puget Sound’s VA Ventures—established June 15, 2020—is the newest Center for Innovation to Impact, formed in partnership with the Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem (VHA IE). VA Ventures will operate as an innovation incubator designed to promote early collaboration between VA, academia, start-ups, and industry. Its mission is to drive health care innovations towards sustainable, high-impact solutions, and ensure those innovations are delivered to VA patients first.
VA Puget Sound provides comprehensive care to about 156,000 Veterans across the Pacific Northwest who are enrolled with a primary care team at one of its 10 care sites: two main campuses (American Lake and Seattle), six outpatient clinics (Edmonds, Mount Vernon, Olympia, Port Angeles, Puyallup and Silverdale) and two Community Resource & Referral Centers (Georgetown in Seattle and Renton). As the VA’s 4th largest research program, VA Puget Sound has research in virtually every major clinical department, including: TBI and multiple blast exposures; memory improvement and Alzheimer's Disease; PTSD and deployment health; Parkinson’s Disease; diabetes; cancer; substance abuse; lower limb prosthetics; genomics; and Health Services. Additionally, it has seven nationally recognized Centers of Excellence (in areas from limb-loss prevention and prosthetic engineering to primary care education and substance abuse treatment). For more information visit www.va.gov/puget-sound-health-care or call 800-329-8387.
About Advance Solutions Life Sciences
Advanced Solutions Life Sciences is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky and is dedicated to the discovery, design, and development of integrated software and hardware solutions for the fields of science that involve living organisms, molecular biology, and biotechnology.
It is focused on applying engineering with biology to create new tools that enable customers to radically improve and increase human health.
The patented and cGMP BioAssemblyBot is an intelligent agile robotic platform used to build and assemble biological structures. More than a 3D printer, BioAssemblyBot leverages over 60 years of industrial robotic innovation to bring speed, quality, high precision and low-cost manufacturing to the task of building tissues and organs. Angiomics is a vascularization platform involving isolates of adipose-derived microvessels, which contain all vascular types maintained in the native microvessel structure.
For more information visit www.advancedsolutions.com or call 1-877-GET-ASI1 (1-877-438-2741).