Graftless Bone Transplants Soon to Be Reality: ADAM Takes 3D Bones to Clinical Trials

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On the shady campus of the BioCT accelerator in Groton, Connecticut, ADAM Project is preparing to take a solution to a decades-long health problem to clinical trials. The bone printing startup is currently prototyping two types of 3D-printed bones as safe, functional substitutes for traditional bone transplants. One type is made from ceramic, which merges with the patient’s tissue, the other from polymer. What’s unique about ADAM is that the bones they print can be constructed nearly as easily as any 3D-printed commodity.

3D printing has been discussed as something of a magic bullet of organ and bone transplants for some time — and that’s just the problem. It has been nearly two decades since the first bioprinting efforts began, and yet in hospitals and clinics, the transplantation process remains relatively unchanged. Bioprinted bones are much simpler to engineer than tissues or organs, but finding the right materials has, nonetheless, been a major roadblock to mass adoption.

Using inorganic but bioabsorbable materials, ADAM’s approach is essentially the same as industrial projects. After passing federal regulatory procedures, certified clinics would be able to print off transplantable bones in just one day on-site. In the U.S., where another name is added to the national transplant waiting list every 10 minutes, the impact of such technology would be a milestone in regenerative care.

And while ADAM’s current focus is on bones, the R&D team is concurrently looking at potential uses for polymer in printing other tissues, such as heart valves and blood vessels.

Dr. Cato Laurencin, distinguished orthopedic surgeon and director of the Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical, and Engineering Sciences at the University of Connecticut, lends his expertise to the project as a scientific consultant. He says that cancer patients are one of the populations that will benefit from ADAM’s bones.

“The skeleton is the most common site for metastases in patients suffering from cancer of breast, prostate, lung, thyroid, and kidney. When we talk about bone grafts, a big part of that is about intervening in cancer cases and offering patients a treatment that is effective and minimally invasive,” says Dr. Laurencin. “ADAM is using a material that is uniquely able to integrate with the recipient’s own tissue. That makes recovery in these cases possible, potentially more completely than is possible with current options.”

ADAM is a member of BioCT and the BioFabUSA program of the Advanced Regeneration Manufacturing Institute (ARMI). The first human trials of ADAM bones will begin by the end of the year.

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