SYDNEY, March 14 (Xinhua) -- The chief executive of a newly listed biotech firm in Australia told Xinhua in an interview that he hopes to bring the company's world-leading human cell and tissue transplant technology to China in a bid to help those suffering from chronic pancreatitis.
Utilizing innovative 3D-V bio-printing capabilities, Matt Lehman said that Koligo Therapeutics are the only company in the world that's dedicated to the wide-spread distribution of pancreatic islets, the cells that make insulin to regulate blood sugar for treating acute pancreatitis.
With China currently experiencing the fastest increasing rates of pancreatitis in the world, the debilitating and painful condition inflames the pancreas and can eventually impair a patient's ability to produce the enzymes needed to digest food.
Estimated to cause approximately 130,000 deaths per year around the globe, at the moment there are limited pharmacological, endoscopic or surgical options for treatment.
As a result many suffering from the illness are forced to turn to high doses of potent opioids to manage the pain.
But for a growing number of patients in the U.S., where Koligo Therapeutics is headquartered, the surgical removal of the pancreas with islet auto-transplantation is becoming a more viable option for long-term pain relief.
"A major challenge with transplants is rejection by the patient's body due to lack of oxygen and blood flow into the new transplanted tissue," Lehman explained.
"The 3D-V bio-printing platform allows us to revascularize cell tissue in the lab, then print the revascularized material in small, biodegradable 3D spheres."
"These spheres act as a temporary scaffold after implant which should allow for far fewer issues of transplant rejection."
Patented and licensed by the Universities of Louisville and Arizona, initial research into 3D-V bio-printing was partly funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. space agency NASA.
While the technology is primarily being used by Koligo Therapeutics to help those suffering from pancreatitis, the engineering of tissue products also holds huge implications for the treatment of other diseases like type 1 diabetes, liver failure, neurological diseases, as well as metabolic and genetic disorders.
"Our Chief Technology Officer Stuart Williams PhD, has been working on this technology with his collaborators for decades," Lehman said.
"We expect to bring our first 3D-V printed islet product into the (Australian) clinic in about two years after we finalize our production methods."
"Then we aim to bring our technology and products to China in conjunction with a strong local partner."
Reporter: Levi J Parsons
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MARCH 15, 2019