3D Bioprinting: A Revolutionary Technology in the Healthcare Industry

bioprinting.jpeg3D bioprinting artificially constructs living tissue by applying layer-upon-layer of living cells. The deposition of live cells in combination with biological substances such as collagen, fibrin, and gelatin supports the growth of complete tissues and organs.

The 3D bioprinting process starts with the creation of an architectural design based on the fundamental composition of organs or target tissues. This process makes use of living cells, molecules, and biomaterials for the production of complex living and non-living biological products.

3D bioprinting is expected to gain significant market acceptance in the near future, primarily because of the growing demand for organ transplantation, expanding applications of 3D bioprinting in drug discovery and cosmetic surgery, and growing investments & funding in the field.

According to a recent study by MarketsandMarkets, the global 3D bioprinting market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 26.5% during the forecast period (2016–2021), to reach USD 1,332.6 million by 2021. Living cells and hydrogels are the key materials used for 3D bioprinting in the healthcare industry.

3D Bioprinting Market by Material (2016 vs. 2021)

Bioprinting Chart.jpg
Note: Other Biomaterials include Alginate, Gelatin, and Fibrinogen.

Technological Evolution

The 3D bioprinting technique was conceived in 1996 when Dr. Gabor Forgacs, while experimenting with Charles Hull (the Co-founder and CTO of 3Dynamic Systems Ltd), noticed that biological parts cling together and possess liquid-like properties. During the initial trials, synthetic scaffolds were used for bioprinting, which were later replaced by a 3D printing technology, namely, Dynamic Optical Projection Stereolithography (DOPsL). This technology enabled the printing of biological tissues within seconds. 3D bioprinting is currently used in a variety of applications such as cosmetic surgery, dental implants, food, drug testing, tissue engineering, prosthetics & implants, and medication.

Factors Driving Growth in the 3D Bioprinting Market

Growing demand for 3D-bioprinted organs: The increasing demand for organ transplantation is one of the key drivers of the 3D bioprinting market. The need for organ transplantation is growing across the globe due to the increased incidence of vital organ failure. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, in 2015, about 123,304 people in the US were on waiting lists for organ transplants. The US government estimated that every day, about 30 people die due to the unavailability of organs for transplant. To address this concern, researchers are developing 3D-printed tissues for the development of organs, such as the kidney, liver, ear, and nose using bioprinting techniques. Although 3D-printed organs are yet to be used in human transplants, the demand for this product is so high that it is driving significant investments in 3D bioprinting research.  

Increasing use of 3D bioprinting in drug testing: Pharmaceutical companies are making use of 3D-bioprinted tissues in place of animals for testing drugs during the drug discovery process. This cost-effective technology shortens and enhances the productivity of the drug discovery process and is also cruelty-free. Due to all these advantages, companies are increasingly adopting 3D bioprinting to eliminate the use of animals for drug testing.

Applications of 3D bioprinting in cosmetic surgery: 3D bioprinting is used on a large scale in the skin care industry. Biofabrication is an automated technique which uses the principles of 3D printing for developing human tissues and organs. This technology is increasingly used in cosmetic procedures such as plastic surgery and skin grafting.

Investments and funding for research: Small and medium-sized companies are mainly dependent on public and private grants and funding for research activities. Over the past few years, government support for research in this domain has been increasing; for instance, in May 2016, the government of Australia established the ARC Training Centre in Additive Biomanufacturing, which is a collaborative 3D bioprinting initiative of around USD 2.7 million (USD 3.7 million AUD) and involves Australian companies, universities, and clinicians. Similarly, in March 2016, Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, awarded funds to the University of Eastern Finland for a 2.5-year project, with a budget of USD 406,968.2 (EUR 3,66,000) to develop a 3D-bioprinted brain for research on brain disease.

Funding is also being raised from private sources, such as Poietis (a French 3D bioprinting startup) raised USD 2.8 million (EUR 2.5 million) in January 2016 in its first financing round. This funding is intended for the development and commercialization of its exclusive laser-assisted 3D bioprinting technology. Growth in the funding available for research activities is likely to stimulate the development of 3D bioprinting for various applications.

Growing focus of market players: Due to the significant growth potential in the 3D bioprinting market, key players in this segment are focusing on partnerships and collaborations to increase their customer base and to enhance geographical presence across the globe. Cyfuse Biomedical K.K. (Japan), BioBots (US), Aspect Biosystems Ltd. (Canada), EnvisionTEC GmbH (Germany), Organovo Holdings, Inc. (US), RegenHU (Switzerland), 3Dynamic Systems Ltd (UK), Regenovo Biotechnology Co., Ltd. (China), and Cellink (Sweden) are some of the key players in this market.

Cyfuse Biomedical K.K. (Japan) partnered with LifeNet Health Institute of Regenerative Medicine (IRM) (a US-based non-profit organ procurement organization) for the installation of the Regenova 3D Bio Printer at LifeNet Health’s R&D center based in Virginia, US. In addition, in April 2015, Organovo Holdings, Inc. (US) entered into a multi-year partnership with Merck & Co. (a US-based pharmaceutical company). The agreement provided Merck with access to Organovo’s commercial exVive3D TM Human Liver Tissue service; it will also enable Merck to develop custom tissue models using Organovo’s proprietary NovoGen Bioprinting Platform TM, for use in drug development. With the increasing adoption of 3D bioprinting in the healthcare industry, market players are focusing on the development of new products in this field.

Where to Find More Information

The research firm MarketsandMarkets released a 145-page report titled 3D Bioprinting by Technology, Material, Application, & Research - Global Forecasts to 2021. This report will help both established firms and new entrants gauge the pulse of the market and develop effective strategies for the future.

Click the button below to read the report's full description on MarketResearch.com and learn more.

3D Bioprinting Industry Report

About the Author:  Nehal Parkhe is a Research Analyst at MarketsandMarkets Research Pvt. Ltd, a global market research and consulting company.

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Topics: Biotechnology Manufacturing & Construction Healthcare Industry Insights