DePuy parent company Johnson & Johnson announced this month a dozen partnerships with life science companies and research institutions, spanning areas from cancer research to insomnia treatment and the creation of new brown fat to treat metabolic diseases.
DePuy itself will be partnered with Tissue Regeneration Systems Inc. to develop 3-D printed implants for orthopedic use.
The agreement with the skeletal reconstruction start-up company was part of a June 19 announcement on new developments with the Johnson & Johnson innovation centers, which were launched last year in Boston, London, California and Shanghai.
Under the agreement, DePuy Synthes will help develop and market patient-specific, resorbable implants for large bone segmental defect treatment in trauma and orthopaedic oncology using TRS’s 3-D printing technology. The partnership includes the potential for future developments in other applications within DePuy’s areas of interest, the announcement states.
Founded in 2008, with offices in Kirkland, Wash., and Ann Arbor, Mich., TRS commercializes a skeletal reconstruction and bone regeneration technology platform licensed from the universities of Michigan and Wisconsin.
Long the realm of artists and hobbyists, 3-D printing has seen leaps in medical applications in just the past few months with firsts such as the printing in plastic of a skull replacement for a woman in the Netherlands; the printing in titanium of a jaw replacement for a woman in Belgium; and the printing of a titanium hip for a woman in Southampton, England. The replacement part is often patient-specific, crafted using scans of the patient’s own body.
The technology was showcased locally during the 2013 OrthoTec Conference. The additive printing process is almost the opposite of the standard subtractive manufacturing method for orthopedic implants, which sculpts the piece by cutting material away.
The technology is expected to become a staple in the orthopedic industry in the future, but adoption has progressed more slowly than in other industries because of the caution needed and the approval process such devices are subject to – the finished product interacts with the human body and must be warranted for the patient’s life.