Every year, the Avonni Prize, i.e. the Chilean National Innovation Prize and “the most important honorary recognition in Chile”, awards the most promising technologies and solutions in an effort to make visible the successful cases that are creating value through innovation in different areas and categories in the South American country.
In a year in which healthcare and biomedical-related innovations have become the center of the discussion in an effort to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chilean biotech company Cells for Cells won the 2020 Avonni Prize for the R&D of Veintis™, a personalized tissue-engineered vascular graft. This year, the judging panel recognized the project´s groundbreaking innovation that included a unique bioinspired structure, a cutting-edge manufacturing process and business model.
Juan Pablo Acevedo, the Director of Cells for Cells Tissue Engineering and Biofabrication department, received the trademarked prize during a ceremony broadcasted live on National TV (TVN) on November 4th. In his words, “this award will contribute to accelerate the development of this revolutionary regenerative implant so that it can positively affect the lives of those in need in a faster and more profound way”.
The awarded technology consists of a tissue-engineered vascular graft and a rapid manufacturing robot that can personalize the implant according to the patients’ requirements. The automated procedure requires less than an hour to fabricate a ready-to-transplant graft at point of care. Through this technique, the product acquires a multilayered structure that mimics the anatomy of native vasculature including intima, media and adventitia layers. Veintis™ is made of bioresorbable nanofibers that are strategically oriented to replicate mechanical responses of human vasculature, thus minimizing the chances of developing neointimal hyperplasia and thrombogenesis, considered as current major setbacks.
In addition, the construct is compatible with stem cells incorporation that can increase the graft integration and reduce the potential risk of infection and inflammation observed in traditional alternatives (synthetic grafts). This technology combo would enable the patient’s own body to naturally restore a new blood vessel.
Recently, Veintis™ reinforced its commercial application with an IP approval in both the US and the European Union, protecting the automated manufacturing method for biofabricating tissue-engineered implants. While the Cells for Cells team received all the positive news with lot of enthusiasm, there is still much to do to reach the final goal, the patient bedside. The validation of Veintis™ through Proof-of-concept in large animal studies is in process with the support of a government grant awarded by CORFO, the Chilean national funding agency. This pre-requisite is an important milestone anticipated by the team. The Chilean company is currently exploring new strategic commercial partnerships to accelerate the reach of its patented solution to the international market. The technology is intended to transform the way personalized implants, and tissue-engineered conduits in particular, are monetized.