Before you read on, please be aware that the analysis below is my opinion only and may include flawed assumptions and inaccuracy of logic; therefore, caveat emptor applies here. Furthermore, all emphasis (color-coded, boldness, and underlined) on the excerpts are my own.
Last week, I discussed the issue of ZERO valuation the sellers forced onto iBio for the United Therapeutics deal. This week, I like to expand on my opinion about why the United Therapeutics deal is a landmark deal that has the potential to transform iBio into the MAIN manufacturer of the critical bioinks. Bioinks are needed to 3D bioprint the solid-organ scaffold. And the solid-organ scaffold is a structure that allows the human cells (either lung, heart, or kidney, etc.) to expand and proliferate. Once the human cells proliferated the scaffold, the scaffold becomes the human organ ready for transplant.
Below is the outline of my basic understanding:
- Bioinks (collagen plus other biomaterials I’m not aware of)
- 3D bioprinting using bioinks formed the scaffold in the shape of the human organ (or partial organ for organ repair)
- Seed the scaffold using human organ cells (such as lung cells)
- Once human cell proliferated the entire 3D solid-organ scaffold, it is ready for transplant.
Based on my layman understanding from basic research, the most challenging part is the creation of the collagen. Without the ideal building block inside the collagen, the human cells may not be able to grow and proliferate inside the collagen scaffold.
That is why I marveled at the magical quality of the CollPlant’s rhCollagen. Below is a page from CollPlant’s September 2019 presentation:
Notice the comparison of the animal extracted collagen and the plant-derived collagen. The plant-derived collagen is more organized with a consistent structure; this allows fast cell proliferation and fast tissue repair according to CollPlant.
Furthermore, per CollPlant presentation, its plant-derived rhCollagen provided the following CLEAR advantages over animal-derived collagen:
- Better bio-functionality
- Superior homogeneity
- Improved safety and greater purity
- No pathogens
- No foreign body response
When you look at the safety and purity factors, plant-derived collagen is the BEST fit for forming a scaffold for the human cell to proliferate.
Now, let us go back to review the United Therapeutics’ CEO comment under the Q&A session from the 2019 Q2 earnings transcript again.
Let me break it down further with my interpretations of the comments:
“We have established cell expansion as I think a real nice core competency at United Therapeutics.”
My interpretation: United Therapeutics (UT) KNOWS how to grow cells in the solid-organ scaffold.
“This year, we will expand our cell populations to — over 1 trillion cells will be manufactured at UT.”
My interpretation: UT KNOWS how to grow over 1 trillion cells in the solid-organ scaffold.
“That’s really remarkable, given organ, such as heart or a lung or kidney needs somewhere between 5 billion and 10 billions cells.”
My interpretation: Since UT can grow 1 trillion cells in the scaffold, they will have no problem growing the necessary numbers of cells in the heart, lung, or kidney organ scaffold for transplantation.
“So, you can see by being able to expand ourselves and have them healthy at the numbers of over 1 trillion; we really have demonstrated scale-up capability for commercialization.”
My interpretation: If UT can grow 1 trillion HEALTHY cells in scaffold, they are ready to commercialize 3D bioprinting of solid-organ scaffold.
“The beauty about cellularizing these scaffolds with an individual’s own cells is that they’ll require no immunosuppression after the organ is transplanted back to them. They will have literally grown their own replacement organ.”
My interpretation: By using the patient’s cell to seed the 3D bioprinted solid-organ scaffold, UT can grow a human organ that the patient body will not reject.
Please be aware that my interpretations could be wrong!
So what do we have here?
A scaffold with 1 trillion human cells exceeds the number of cells required for a heart, a lung, or a kidney.
Sound to me that United Therapeutics is READY to start growing human organs for transplantation. Don’t you think?
A Bioprinting World Map
Here is an article that best reflected the current 3D bioprinting landscape, “A Bioprinting World Map.”
Below are some of the excerpts:
With 109 established bioprinting companies and many entrepreneurs around the world showing interest in the emerging field, it’s just a matter of time before it becomes one of the most sought after technologies.
The technology has gained increasing attention due to the ability to control the placement of cells, biomaterials, and molecules for tissue regeneration.
Bioprinting is leading the way into some of the most advanced research ever done in medicine, in a way becoming a beaming source of hope for hundreds of thousands of people who consider the future of healthcare to be focused on patient-specific treatment and an increased life expectancies. Thanks to many of the breakthroughs done at research facilities around the globe and booming interest in the applications of the technology, perhaps in a year, our map will need to be updated and bioprinting companies will have increased significantly.
No matter how we look at it, we live in a competitive biotech world. I do not believe United Therapeutics is going to sit on their laurels and wait for the competitors to move ahead. I think United Therapeutics is going full speed ahead with their 3D bioprinting of the solid-organ scaffolds. Seed the scaffolds with human lung cells until the cells proliferated the scaffolds. And then begin clinical trials to test the transplantation. But to perform all these testings to get to the clinical trials, a LOT of rhCollagen needs to be produced. Guess who is going to mass-produce the rhCollagen?
Per CollPlant’s presentation, the plant-derived collagen offers consistent form and structure plus improved safety and greater purity. In time, the words may spread that the plant-derived collagen is better for 3D bioprinting. By then, iBio may be signing on more deals producing bioinks for other biotech companies as well.
Don’t forget that I derived the above analysis from my basic understanding of 3D bioprinting as a layman. So, do your own DD to confirm my logical deduction. My opinion is that the achievements made by United Therapeutics suggest it is ready to create human organs for transplantation. All the necessary components are available and ready. It is time to start clinical trials with 3D bioprinted solid-organ scaffold filled with human cells for transplantation.
I think of the absurdity of the $IBIO at 54 cents reflecting a market cap of $13 million. The value of iBio as a potential and SIGNIFICANT manufacturer of bioinks to be used for 3D bioprinting of solid-organ scaffold is COMPLETELY missing!
When United Therapeutics 3D-bioprinted human organs begin to appear in the news for organ transplantation, do you think the value of iBio as a primary source of rhCollagen will stay missing?
I plan to hold $IBIO as long as I can for the maximum gain until a buyout occurs to take away my shares.
My 2 cents