It’s really incredible what we have seen in only the last year within the 3D printing space. Some of the most exciting applications have to do with bioprinting. One day we may be able to 3D print nearly any organ on demand, improving and even saving the lives of millions of individuals worldwide.
Until then, researchers are working on a variety of less complicated applications for 3D bioprinting. One company which we have been following is TeVido BioDevices, based out of Austin, Texas. TeVido’s aim is to “Build better breasts,” by utilizing 3D bioprinters which fabricate nipple tissue.
Every year tens of thousands of women are diagnosed with breast cancer. In fact, one in eight women will be diagnosed within their lifetime. These are staggering numbers. Breast cancer is often curable if caught early, especially with today’s medical advancements. With that said, oftentimes women need to undergo a mastectomy (the removal of all their breast tissue) in order to assure that the cancer does not return. This can unfortunately be devastating to many women who may slip into depression with feelings of inadequacy. Fortunately breast reconstruction surgery is available to many of them, allowing them to regain their womanly form. With that said, there is still is an area of the surgery which could see major improvements.
“The last step in an often very long and arduous journey will be to do nipple reconstruction,” explained Laura Bosworth, CEO of TeVido BioDevices. “Unfortunately the results of nipple reconstruction are pretty unpredictable with long term fading and flattening.”
This is where TeVido comes into play. They are in the process of perfecting a 3D bioprinting technique which reconstructs a women’s nipple tissue using her own cells. The nipple can be any size, shape, or color that the patient desires, and because it’s created from her own cells, the risk of rejection is greatly reduced.
Thus far TeVido has been making tremendous progress in their drive to perfect this technique. They were the recipient of $900,000 in grant funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This has covered a substantial portion of their R&D budget, but now the company needs to protect their ideas and techniques via patents. This is also a very expensive process, costing tens of thousands of dollars.
So what did they decide to do? They turned to the public to seek $30,000 in funding via crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. Their campaign ended on January 30th after bringing in $30,136, enabling them to move forward with the patent process. The company offered a variety of rewards to those who helped fund their drive to $30,000. These rewards included anything from a simple picture on an Honor Wall to a tour of the TeVido research facility to an exclusive dinner and tour with the company’s executive team.
It’s really incredible what can be accomplished with a bright idea and the help of the crowd. The company will likely need additional funding along the way as they move forward with their plan to 3D print better breasts, but this is certainly a tremendous start. I personally look forward to following their progress in the months and years to come.
Did you help by backing their Indiegogo campaign? Let’s hear your thoughts on yet another incredible bioprinting company. Discuss in the TeVido BioDevices forum thread on 3DPB.com.