Case Stories

The Birth of a New Industry

"The only difference between science fiction and science in timing." -Dean Kamen

The Vision

After inventing an impressive array of innovative medical devices, Dean Kamen set his sights on a new goal - inventing an entire industry. In 2017, Kamen started ARMI, the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute - an organization whose mission is to “make practical the large-scale manufacturing of engineered tissues and tissue-related technologies, to benefit existing industries and grow new ones.” 

From Science Fiction to Science

The Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute in Manchester, New Hampshire brings together public and private institutions including medical schools, engineering schools, private industry, and research laboratories to work toward the goal of scaling up the process of creating human tissues and organs through biofabrication.

The Center of the Biofab Universe

The heart of this new industry is Manchester, New Hampshire, where Dean Kamen plans to “develop a trained and ready workforce” that will be needed. As the industry grows, a wide variety of job opportunities will be available to individuals trained in STEM fields. 

A Cure for Heart Disease

"Imagine if we could cure disease instead of just managing it." -Jay Hoying

Heart Disease in the United States

When someone has heart disease, it means the blood vessels in their heart have become clogged. This can lead to a heart attack.

A patient with clogged arteries can get treatments such as angioplasties or coronary bypass surgeries, but these options only treat or manage symptoms - they do not cure heart disease.

Risk factors like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking can lead to blocked arteries.

A Huge Problem

Heart disease is one of the most common and costly diseases in the United States:

The Solution: 3D Printing

Jay Hoying and his team at Advanced Solutions Life Sciences are working toward a real cure for clogged arteries: printing replacement blood vessels for the heart using their 3D printing technology.

In the future, if a patient could receive a new blood vessel to replace the damaged one in their heart, they could be cured of heart disease and drastically lower their risk of having a heart attack.

Detecting Cancer with Biosensors

Lowering the barrier to diagnostics will enable everyone to have access to good healthcare." -Dr. Marcie Black

What are biosensors?

Biosensors use technology to detect the presence of specific substances in the body.

Dr. Marcie Black and her colleagues at Advanced Silicon Group are inventing new types of biosensors that can detect diseases such as lung cancer - using only a blood test.

Biosensors have the potential to make the process of diagnosing diseases quicker, cheaper, and more widely available.

Biomarkers Matter

Innovations in diagnostic medicine are improving outcomes for patients. Biosensors can detect a patient’s specific biomarkers, allowing doctors to determine the most effective type of treatment for their disease. Biosensors also make diagnostic procedures easier and cheaper than performing biopsies.

The Amazing Result

After being diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, Quintano’s doctor tested him for biomarkers to determine if he would be a candidate for the most effective form of treatment for lung cancer: targeted therapy. This test helped Quintano regain quality of life.

Keeping Bioprinted Tissues Growing

Biosensors have another important use in biofabrication: keeping new tissue growing strong.

Just like a plant needs the right amounts of water and sunlight to grow, new tissues needs precise amounts of ‘food’ to stay alive.

Growing tissues eat proteins called growth factors. Growth factors must be carefully and precisely fed to tissue in the correct amounts.

Biosensors can be used to measure how much growth factor a tissue needs, yielding healthy cells that grow faster and at a lower cost.

Kidneys on Demand

"The kidney transplant list is thousands and thousands of people." -Keira McGrath, DEKA

The Problem

Waiting for a Transplant

What’s it like to live with kidney failure? Shari waited for seven years to get a transplant. During that entire time, she received dialysis treatments three days a week to keep her alive. 

Clinical Testing

Even though printing on-demand kidneys is still a few years away, the 3D printed kidney tissue has another vital use right now: testing new drugs.

Instead of testing on living people or animals, pharmaceutical companies can use the living tissue created through biofabrication to see if new medicines can help treat diseases such as kidney disease.


"That surgery got me out of kidney failure and on the road to recovery." -Luke Massella

Luke's Treatment

Luke was one of the first patients to receive an experimental treatment developed by Dr. Anthony Atala at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Atala created a new bladder especially for Luke made from his own cells.

Luke was one of the first people ever to receive a 3D-printed bladder. He is part of a long-term clinical trial to ensure the safety and effectiveness of his replacement organ.

Printing Cells Instead of Ink

Dr. Atala is a pioneer in the field of tissue regeneration. Through his work at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University, he developed a way to reconfigure a regular inkjet printer to print out cells instead of ink. Those cells will grow into replacement organs for patients like Luke. 

10 Years Later

After receiving his replacement bladder at the age of 10, Luke’s treatment allowed him to live a normal life. He and Dr. Atala reunited 10 years later to talk about the success of the procedure. 

Marine Sgt. Smith

"I realized I couldn't move my right arm. At first, I thought it was gone..." -Marine Sergeant Brian Smith

Groundbreaking Treatment

After his injury, Brian was treated by Dr. Badylak, who developed an innovating procedure to regrow muscle tissue. By implanting a scaffold into Brian’s arm, Dr. Badylak’s technique signaled Brian’s own stem cells to grow onto the scaffold and develop into new muscle tissue.

Extracellular Matrix

Dr. Badylak’s technique of triggering damaged muscle tissue to regrow on an extracellular matrix has been successful in many people. Made from substances such as pig bladder, the extracellular matrix is implanted in the wounded area and gives the body a helping-hand to repair itself. 

Regrowing Injured Muscles

In another experiment, Dr. Badylak implanted extracellular matrices into people with leg injuries. These patients made dramatic improvements after surgery - many saw significant regrowth of their leg muscle tissue. 

Regenerative Medicine for Wounded Warriors

Brian is one of many servicepeople who have returned from war zones with grievous injuries. There is hope that advancements in regenerative medicine will help improve their futures and even heal the wounds they suffered at war.