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Engineering the Heart of America

April 19, 2020
Regenerative manufacturing is saving lives by working to eliminate the transplant waiting list
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Every ten minutes someone is added to the organ transplant waiting list in the U.S. That’s 144 new people added to the waiting list every single day. And of the people already on the transplant list, twenty will die every day. 

This is because only 1 out of 1000 people die in a manner that allows them to be an organ donor, and while 90% of adults support organ donation, only 60% are actually registered as donors. That means for the 112,000+ men, women, and children in the U.S. on the transplant waiting list, the chances of matching a donor are slim (organdonor.gov)

There is, however, a way around this challenge. Tissue engineering has been around for a while, born from university labs, and has become a young industry. We’re at the beginning of the regenerative manufacturing industry, and the innovators here in the U.S. working to advance this technology are Engineering the Heart of America, and these breakthroughs will save lives. 

What is Regenerative Manufacturing

Regenerative manufacturing is the process of taking tissue engineering from science to technology and producing replacement tissues and organs at-scale. The challenge with tissue engineering stems fro biology being a very complicated process, and we’re still just scratching the surface on how to engineer biology. 

We still live in a time where if a person is on the transplant waiting list — for them to receive a transplant — the right person must die at the right time, in the right place, in the right way, for there to even be a chance of a match. Well, it’s 2020 and biotechnology is about to make this the way of the past

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

A lot of the progress being made today, however, is due to advances in robotics and automation that are now allowing huge sets of experiments to be run in parallel. By doing this, scientists and engineers can figure out what factors are most important to how the biology functions, and we can engineer that. 

It’s these steps in manufacturing and automation where regenerative manufacturing comes into play. To reach the scale of production needed to tackle the growing transplant waiting list, we need to be able to reliably produce products that people can trust to be safe and healthy enough to use in medical care.

Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute

In 2017, a public-private partnership was established with the government to build the U.S. regenerative manufacturing institute. This partnership is known as BioFabUSA. The Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI) is a non-profit which was established to lead BioFabUSA and is itself led by legendary American inventor Dean Kamen — who is also the founder of DEKA Research & Development

“The only difference between science, and science-fiction, is timing” 

Dean Kamen, Executive Director of ARMI

Engineering the Heart of America

Building an industry is no small feat and isn’t something that any one organization can do on its own. By definition, it takes an industry. 

ARMI is joined by 140+ partners, or member companies and universities, to make regenerative manufacturing a reality. These partners, with more joining every day, are comprised of world-renowned experts in industrial automation, big data, cell biology, regenerative medicine, commercialization, innovation, and countless other fields. 

Through the coordinated effort of so many dedicated people and partners, the U.S. regenerative manufacturing industry is Engineering the Heart of America. Eventually, we’ll be able to eliminate the need for the transplant waiting list entirely.

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