There are a growing number of patent applications for “bio-printing” technology which combines 3D printing with biotechnology to produce artificial organs. The reason is that donors are in shortage compared to need for organ donations and the negative side effects of existing organ transplants such as immune rejection can be solved via the development of medical technology and convergence technology.
According to the Office of Patent Administration on November 13, domestic patent applications in the field of bioprinting ran to only 6 cases in 2013, but increased every year and reached 50 last year.
By year, only no patent was applied for registration in 2012, but patent applications steadily increased every year to six cases in 2013, 16 cases in 2014, 31 cases in 2015, and 50 cases in 2016. Bioprinting comes from a concept based on the fact that the sizes of particles of ink for ink-jet printers are similar to those of a human cell. Bioprinting can produce body tissues and organs by using bio-ink based on living cells. While conventional 3D printing can make only prosthetic prosthesis that supports human bodies such as dental prostheses and prosthetic legs, bioprinting has developed to such an extent that it can produce customized blood vessels, eyeballs, livers and hearts based on stem cells.
By field of applications, 42 cases were transplants that go inside bodies, followed by bioprinting devices and materials (39 cases), dental prostheses (15 cases) and artificial prostheses (11 cases). Koreans and Korean organizations accounted for 88% of the total number of applicants. Among the Koreans and Korean organizations, colleges and universities recorded the lion’s share, followed by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), individuals, and public research institutes.