Israel's CollPlant Biotechnologies and the US-based United Therapeutics Corporation are expanding their partnership to begin the production of 3D-printed kidneys, the companies announced on Monday.

The collaboration agreement combines CollPlant's proprietary recombinant human collagen (rhCollagen) and BioInk technology with the regenerative medicine and organ manufacturing capabilities of United Therapeutics.

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United Therapeutics has paid CollPlant $3 million to exercise an option to license, on an exclusive basis, CollPlant's technology for 3D bioprinting of human kidneys. This expanded collaboration aims to reduce global organ shortages, potentially saving lives of millions of patients on kidney waiting lists.

"Organ shortages are an unmet global health need and by partnering with United Therapeutics for the past couple of years, we have made significant progress with this pivotal organ manufacturing initiative," said CollPlant CEO Yehiel Tal.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services' Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, nearly 92,000 Americans were waiting for life-saving kidney donations as of Sept. 21.

In Israel, there were some 5,000 kidney patients on dialysis as of August 2020, 900 of whom were eligible for kidney transplants.

Tal called United Therapeutics a "pioneer" in the emerging field of organ manufacturing and said CollPlant was "honored to be part of this effort."

In addition, Tal said, the decision by the US company to take up the option was validation of CollPlant's rhCollagen as a "vital building block in regenerative medicine."

"We remain committed to exploring new innovative applications in the fields of medical aesthetics and 3D bioprinting of tissues and organs," Tal said. Read more at Israel Hayom