While 3D printing in the medical field isn’t new, you know it’s heading further towards becoming commonplace when a company like Johnson & Johnson picks it up. The corporation has already been involved in the field for a few years; even back in 2014, they were working with Organovo on early bioprinted tissue. Now another division of Johnson & Johnson has acquired specialized 3D printing technology and will be using it to create patient-specific, bioresorbable implants.
DePuy Synthes, which specializes in orthopedic and neuro products and services, has acquired 3D printing technology from Tissue Regeneration Systems (TRS). The two companies actually began working together back in 2014 through Johnson & Johnson Innovation, which invests in scientific ventures and builds partnerships at all stages of development in the medical device, consumer healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.
“The acquisition of the TRS technology by DePuy Synthes is testament to our ability to identify and work collaboratively with promising early-stage companies and entrepreneurs to accelerate bringing innovative new products to market,” said Robert G. Urban, PhD, Global Head, Johnson & Johnson Innovation. “We are excited at the potential this technology holds to help improve patient outcomes.”
TRS is an early-stage medical device company that leverages 3D printing to develop and fabricate advanced skeletal reconstruction implants. The implants are bioresorbable, meaning that the patient’s existing bone will absorb them over time with no residual foreign material left. The implants’ porosity enables them to be fully integrated into the bone, and the porosity is carefully engineered to support function and bear a significant amount of load. They’re created, like other 3D printed implants, from images taken from patient CT scans, making them fully customizable.
TRS’ implants are set apart from other 3D printed implants by their proprietary Affinity coating, an osteoconductive mineral coating with a plate-like nanostructure that resembles living bone. It allows the implants to more easily integrate into existing bone and spur the growth of new bone, encouraging faster healing.
“We are systematically investing in building a pipeline of 3D printed products,” said Ciro Römer, Company Group Chairman, DePuy Synthes. “The TRS technology, which will be added to the DePuy Synthes Trauma Platform, is the latest example of how we are working toward developing next-generation technologies that transform healthcare delivery with individualized solutions for patients.”
TRS, which is headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan, developed its technology based on research at the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin. DePuy Synthes will be using the 3D printed implants in particular for their Trauma platform, a priority area for the company. According to TRS, its Affinity coating can also be applied to other implant materials including titanium, PEEK and sutures.
It’s big news whenever any major corporation adopts a new 3D printing technology. The Johnson & Johnson family of companies has already formed more than 50 strategic business collaborations having to do with 3D printing, but this one will be especially welcome news to patients with orthopedic and craniomaxillofacial injuries and deformities. The financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed at this point. Discuss in the DePuy Synthes forum at 3DPB.com.