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Tissue injury and dysfunctioning commonly occurs in humans; however, not in all cases, the tissue regeneration capability of a human body is able to cope up with the damage caused. The conventional approach used to deal with this type of trauma involves transplantation of damaged tissues or organs; this is further associated with several limitations, including non-availability of compatible organ donor, risk of graft rejection (due to the body’s immunological reaction) and post-surgical infection / complication. Another tissue engineering approach involves the amalgamation of cells, biomolecules and growth factors with scaffolds, in order to develop a three-dimensional (3D) functional tissue that mimics the human tissue. However, this technique is less effective, time consuming and can lead to non-homogenous distribution of cells in the matrix, making it logistically and financially non-feasible for clinical applications. To improve on this aspect, additive manufacturing, specifically 3D bioprinting, is being explored in the tissue engineering domain. The 3D bioprinting technique employs bioinks (consisting of living cells and biomaterials) to fabricate complex anatomical structures (tissues, cartilages and organs), in a layer-by-layer pattern, with the help of computer-aided printers. Further, 3D bioprinting offers a range of benefits over the conventional tissue engineering techniques, including high accuracy, enhanced resolution, fast processing time and low cost. Owing to the layer-wise construction, bioprinted tissues consist of pores, which promote easy perfusion of gas and nutrients, as well as enable intercellular and intracellular communication. It is worth mentioning that Organovo was the first company to enter the 3D bioprinting space by printing functional blood vessels in 2010.
Despite the various advantages associated with 3D bioprinting, the technology is associated with certain challenges. One of the key challenges is the stringent requirement to maintain the quality across each step (designing the model, selection of the bioink, printing validation and post-printing) executed before the transplantation. Further, the lack of a robust design software might hamper the manufacturing of a mechanically stable 3D construct. In this regard, various industry stakeholders and academicians have undertaken initiatives in order to further develop / improve this technology for use across a variety of applications, including fabrication of bone, cartilage, organ and skin (for transplantation), drug testing, toxicology screening, and cancer research, by using diseased tissue models. As a result, the intellectual capital related to different 3D bioprinting techniques, such as extrusion bioprinting, inkjet printing, laser assisted bioprinting and stereolithography, has also grown. In light of such developments, it is important to keep track of both pockets of innovation and key areas of improvement for stakeholders to remain competitive in this upcoming field of the healthcare domain. This report captures some of the key R&D-related trends and provides competitive intelligence on the intellectual property in the field of 3D bioprinting.
The “3D Bioprinting: Intellectual Property Landscape” report features an extensive study of some of the key historical and contemporary intellectual property (IP) documents (featuring granted patents, patent applications and other documents), describing the various types of 3D bioprinting. The insights generated in this report have been presented across two deliverables, namely a MS Excel workbook and a MS PowerPoint deck, summarizing the ongoing trend in this domain.
Key inclusions are briefly described below: