Bioconvergence company BICO is partnering with Nanochon, a startup developing regenerative joint replacements. Under the terms of the deal, Nanochon will purchase $1.5 million worth of products and services from BICO’s SCIENION to develop 3D printed regenerative joint implants. Nanochon’s novel joint implant technology promises to deliver faster and more successful recoveries for patients while reducing costs to health providers, payers, and patients.
“It is very exciting to have the strategic support of the BICO group,” said Ben Holmes, CEO and co-founder of Nanochon. “We have had a clear vision of helping sufferers of joint disease with our technology, and this partnership will greatly accelerate Nanochon to the clinic and the market.”
Joint replacement surgery has emerged as one of the most common surgeries among the fast-aging U.S. population – with more than 7 million occurring each year. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates that aging Americans will drive annual healthcare spending to $6 trillion by 2027, with much of that coming from aging-related disorders like osteoporosis. Current joint replacements typically fail after 15-20 years due to a lack of organic cartilage growth, and the highly disruptive nature of the surgery. Nanochon’s novel regenerative method solves this by replacing a highly invasive replacement surgery with a minimally invasive procedure, where 3D printed structures made of a novel polymer nano-material are implanted into damaged cartilage to promote healthy cartilage growth.
“Nanochon’s approach to regenerative joint replacement has the potential to improve the lives of tens of millions of people each year,” explained Erik Gatenholm, CEO and co-founder of BICO. “We’re thrilled to leverage BICO’s bio automation manufacturing and technology expertise to help bring this product to millions of patients around the world.”
Nanochon uses 3D printing techniques and biologically-inspired, synthetic nanomaterials along with computer-aided design, to create functional 3D cartilage implants. Current prototypes have been shown to maintain load-bearing properties and effectively induce biologic bone, vascular, and cartilage in-growth. The prototypes’ abilities are achieved through the innovative micro-to-nano design of the printed synthetic implant. This design demonstrates biologically-comparable mechanical strength and encourages blood and fluid implant perfusion. In both a laboratory setting and in a small animal model, Nanochon’s implant leads to rapid and enhanced bone and vascular in-growth over the short term, and cartilage growth over the long term.
The company’s goal is to use these nanomaterials along with advanced 3D production-quality printing systems to produce cost-effective on-demand devices that will greatly improve patient outcomes in young and active patients with knee damage. This technology can be an effective alternative to the standard types of cartilage tissue repair and grafting procedures already available. Traditional procedures have been shown to have unpredictable results. The potential of the Nanochon implant to be a consistently effective treatment option would greatly improve patient outcomes.
As part of the deal, BICO’s company SCIENION will serve as a contract manufacturer for cartilage resurfacing implants for Nanochon. The process will leverage several key technologies from the BICO portfolio to enable this first-of-its-kind solution. The contract will also make SCIENION a key manufacturing partner for Nanochon over the coming decade. “We are excited that our bio automation services will enable the manufacturing of the 3D joint implants,” said Dr. Holger Eickhoff, CEO of SCIENION.
BICO is also investing $400,000 in Nanochon’s Seed funding round to help advance Nanochon’s regenerative medicine technology, a key part of BICO’s Next Generation Core Industrial Ecosystems, namely Next Generation Tissue Engineering. Nanochon will use the new funding to help scale its manufacturing processes and accelerate its clinical trials.