3D Systems and United Therapeutics said today they will partner to develop solid-organ scaffolds for human transplants through a multiyear collaboration whose value was not disclosed.

The collaboration is designed to combine the regenerative medicine and organ manufacturing capabilities of United Therapeutics with the 3D printing and precision healthcare expertise of 3D Systems,

3D Systems will work with United Therapeutics and its organ manufacturing and transplantation-focused subsidiary Lung Biotechnology PBC to develop 3D printing systems for solid-organ scaffolds, beginning with lung scaffolds. The printing systems will target collagen and other building block proteins as scaffold raw materials.

The company is a public benefit corporation created in 2015 to address an acute national shortage of transplantable lungs and other organs by developing technologies that either delay the need for such organs or expand their supply.

“While we continue to develop and commercialize therapies for rare and life-threatening conditions, we view organ manufacturing as the ultimate technology solution for a broad array of diseases, many of which, such as pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), have proven incurable thus far through more traditional pharmaceutical and biologic therapies,” United Therapeutics stated in a Form 10-Q filing for the first quarter, filed today.

2023 Target Commercial Launch Date

According to the quarterly filing, United Therapeutics has a target commercial launch date of 2023 for manufactured organs, which are now in preclinical development.

“Although our primary focus is on engineered lungs, we are also developing technology for other engineered organs, such as kidneys and hearts, and our manufactured lungs, kidneys, and hearts have set records for viability in animal models,” United Therapeutics stated in the form 10-Q. “We are also developing technologies to improve outcomes for lung transplant recipients and to increase the supply of donor lungs through ex vivo lung perfusion.”

In the collaboration with 3D Systems, Lung Biotechnology PBC will divide the scaffolds using redifferentiated stem cells and other patient-specific biological material.

“By cellularizing scaffolds created with 3D Systems printers with a patient's own cells, there will no longer be a need for immunosuppression and a vastly greater number of patients can extend their enjoyment of life through organ transplantation,” United Therapeutics chairman and CEO Martine Rothblatt, Ph.D., said in a statement.

The collaboration will be based out of 3D Systems’ new bioprinting lab in San Diego

“Our partnership with 3D Systems is a major step forward in creating an unlimited supply of tolerable transplanted organs,” Dr. Rothblatt added. “Indeed, we expect one personalized organ transplant will avoid years of health care spending on palliative medical therapies.”

Separately today, United Therapeutics reported first-quarter results showing a 24% year-over-year decline in net income, to $178.6 million, on revenues that rose only 0.4%, to $370.5 million.

“Our quarterly financial growth trends are slower than we would like as we are seeing more patients stay longer on front-line [PAH] therapies,” Dr. Rothblatt stated. “We are continuing to invest in our growing product pipeline of late-stage programs in cardiopulmonary diseases and oncology and also in regenerative medicine and organ manufacturing to ultimately find a cure for PAH.”

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