May 28, 2015      

Regeneration in a fast-ageing world

TOKYO: In a world where most industrialized societies are ageing rapidly?especially in Japan?the word regeneration has a knack for turning more than a few graying heads with its lure of renewed health and bodily vigor.

Stands to reason then that a company with a robotic-controlled 3D printer called Regenova that turns living cell aggregates into artificial human tissue would get a bit more than just passing notice.

The inventor of the machine and its patented process, Koji Kuchiishi, more than helps his own cause with confident statements like this:

?Bio 3D printing technology is going to push regenerative medicine forward,? says Kuchiishi. ?Someday, we are going to see a world where we can regenerate body parts such as blood vessels, hearts and livers. Various human tissue and organs will be regenerated and such technologies will be put to practical use in the future, but all organs need blood vessels. So we think technologies to create blood vessels will be vital.?

And he backs up all the grandiose talk with action.

Regenova can print cartilage and subchondral bone, tubular tissues such as blood vessels, digestive and urinary organs and even miniature livers.

Subchondral bone sclerosis, together with progressive cartilage degradation, ?is widely considered as a hallmark of osteoarthritis, a major cause of disability in the world’s ageing populations.?

$17 million VC investment in 2015

Kuchiishi, a former McKinsey & Co. consultant and Panasonic engineer, founded Cyfuse Biomedical in 2010 with regenerative medicine researcher Dr. Koichi Nakayama of Saga University and Kyushu University.

At this stage, Cyfuse sells 3D printing systems to Japanese universities for research purposes for around $330,000; the firm plans to begin selling their tissue printers outside the Japanese market later in 2015.

Kuchiishi, says he?s looking forward to a startling future where bioprinting takes primacy in medicine.

3d print advert

Still in start-up mode, Cyfuse Biomedical has been well received: it has pulled in excess of $17 million in venture capital (2015) to attack a worldwide market expected to reach nearly $100 billion by 2030, says Kuchiishi.

The company agreed to the $17 million in exchange for an undisclosed stake in operations to a dozen Japanese investors, among them medical-device manufacturer Shibuya Kogyo Co and exoskeleton developer, Cyberdyne Inc.

According to Tech In Asia, Cyfuse has created a network of Japanese research universities to further develop the product, and is now seeking American counterparts. ?His patented process can produce tissue as quickly as two days after culturing the cells.

?More complex tissue, like a heart valve, takes up to one month, but the result is a stronger piece of biological equipment. The heart valves his company produces can withstand up to four times as much pressure as the average human?s.?

Cyfuse is not alone.

See also: Eight More ?Breakthrough? Bioprinters