3D Systems announces expansion in bioprinting
3D Systems, the company that released the first commercial 3D printer, has announced a breakthrough in bioprinting technology that could enable 3D printing of regenerative tissue.
The US-based firm is set to significantly expand its development efforts in regenerative medicine and bioprinting solutions, a decision that was driven by the progress made in collaboration with United Therapeutics Corporation and its organ manufacturing and transplantation-focused subsidiary, Lung Biotechnology PBC, on the development of 3D printing systems for solid-organ scaffolds.
As part of the plans 3D Systems will invest, develop, and commercialize solutions for a variety of applications n regenerative medicine, including the development of non-solid organ applications.
In 2020, 3D Systems and United Therapeutics achieved significant progress in the development of a next-generation manufacturing platform solution for lung scaffolds. This is capable of full size, vascularized, micron-level printing. Combined, the two companies have made advances in lung modelling, 3D printing, as well as material formulation using a unique rhCollagen, used in tissue regeneration.
The firm’s newly developed Print to Perfusion™ process enables 3D printing of high-resolution scaffolds that can be suffused with living cells to create tissues. 3D Systems is also expanding its high-speed Figure 4® technology through innovation tailored to bioprinting and regenerative medicine.
Building on these capabilities, 3D Systems and its partners will be able to advance innovation into numerous applications within the human body. The company also believes this gives them the potential to enable novel laboratory testing methods to accelerate the development of new drug therapies while reducing the need for animal testing.
Chuck Hull, co-founder, executive vice president and chief technology officer, 3D Systems said: “Over the last years as bioprinting and regenerative medicine have evolved, we’ve seen a growing need to place cells at high-resolution in a nurturing matrix to produce complex tissues.
“Precise 3D printing with hydrogels, followed by perfusion of cells into the printed scaffold is the best way to achieve this, and we are thankful our work with United Therapeutics has given us the opportunity to advance and perfect this technology.”
Getting ready for cloud data-driven healthcare
As healthcare continues to recognise the value of data and digital transformation, many organisations are relying on the cloud to make their future-forward and data-centric thinking a reality. In fact, the global healthcare cloud computing market was valued at approximately $18 billion and is expected to generate around $61 billion USD by 2025.
At the forefront of these changes is the rapid adoption of cloud-based, or software-as-a-service (SaaS), applications. These apps can be used to handle patient interactions, track prescriptions, care, billing and more, and the insights derived from this important data can vastly improve operations, procurement and courses of treatment. However, before healthcare organisations can begin to dream about a true data-driven future, they have to deal with a data-driven dilemma: compliance.
Meeting regulation requirements
It’s no secret that healthcare is a highly regulated industry when it comes to data and privacy – and rightfully so. Patient records contain extremely sensitive data that, if changed or erased, could cost someone their life. This is why healthcare systems rely on legacy technologies, like Cerner and Epic EHRs, to manage patient information – the industry knows the vendors put an emphasis on making them as secure as possible.
Yet when SaaS applications are introduced and data starts being moved into them, compliance gets complicated. For example, every time a new application is introduced into an organisation, that organisation must have the vendor complete a BAA (Business Associate Agreement). This agreement essentially puts the responsibility for the safety of patients’ information — maintaining appropriate safeguards and complying with regulations — on the vendor.
However, even with these agreements in place, healthcare systems still are at risk of failing to meet compliance requirements. To comply with HIPAA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 11 and other regulations that stipulate the need to exercise best practices to keep electronic patient data safe, healthcare organisations must maintain comprehensive audit trails – something that gets increasingly difficult when data sits in an application that resides in the vendor’s infrastructure.
Additionally, data often does not stay in the applications – instead healthcare users download, save and copy it into other business intelligence tools, creating data sprawl across the organisation and exposing patient privacy to greater risk.
With so many of these tools that are meant to spur growth and more effective care creating compliance challenges, it begs the question: how can healthcare organisations take advantage of the data they have without risking non-compliance?
Yes, healthcare organisations can adhere to regulations while also getting valuable insights from the wealth of data they have available. However, to help do this, organisations must own their data. This means data must be backed up and stored in an environment that they have control over, rather than in the SaaS vendors’ applications.
Backing up historical SaaS application data directly from an app into an organisation’s own secure cloud infrastructure, such as AWS or Microsoft Azure, makes it easier, and less costly, to maintain a digital chain of custody – or a trail of the different touchpoints of data. This not only increases the visibility and auditability of that data, but organisations can then set appropriate controls around who can access the data.
Likewise, having data from these apps located in one central, easily accessible location can decrease the number of copies floating around an organisation, reducing the surface area of exposure while also making it easier for organisations to securely pull data into business intelligence tools.
When healthcare providers have unfettered access to all their historical data, the possibilities for growth and insights are endless. For example, having ownership and ready access to authorised data can help organisations further implement and support outcome-based care. Insights enabled by this data will help inform diagnoses, prescriptions, treatment plans and more, which benefits not only the patient, but the healthcare ecosystem as a whole.
To keep optimising and improving care, healthcare systems must take advantage of new tools like SaaS applications. By backing up and owning their historical SaaS application data, they can do so while minimising the risk to patient privacy or compliance requirements. Having this ownership and access can propel healthcare organisations to be more data-driven – creating better outcomes for everyone.