A collaborative project established by Canadian-based industrial research centre, Investissement Québec – CRIQ, and university hospital centre, the CHU de Québec–Université Laval, have launched the 3D anatomical reconstruction laboratory, the Laboratoire de reconstruction anatomique 3D (LARA 3D).
Said to be the only facility of its kind in Canada, LARA 3D provides Québec with the equipment and expertise required for the production of patient-specific implantable prostheses thanks to the use of 3D imaging, modelling and Additive Manufacturing technologies.
The partners of the collaborative project, which also includes the participation of SOVAR, an organisation dedicated to the emergence, development and deployment of responsible technological and social innovations stemming from cutting-edge research, have invested over $8 million to purchase AM machines and specialised equipment, set up research spaces, design and manufacture the first prototypes, conduct usability tests and launch the approval process for new products with a view to their commercialisation.
The Québec government has reportedly contributed $3,477,873 from the research infrastructure financing component of its research support programme. According to the project partners, the first innovation to emerge from LARA 3D is an implantable mandibular reconstruction plate for people with oral cancer affecting the jawbone.
Additive Manufacturing makes it possible to solve the conformity problems encountered with industrial prostheses, which are standardised for a typical patient and therefore never perfectly adapted to individuals. An implant can now be custom-designed based on internal imaging of the patient to match the unique contours of the bone to be repaired. The implant is then additively manufactured from biocompatible metals using either Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) or Electron Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-EB).
LARA 3D also houses specialised equipment that can be used to finish products, ensure their quality and traceability, and clean and sterilise them before they are delivered to the medical team. In addition, the ISO 13485 certification process is said to be underway to ensure that the development and manufacturing of specific prostheses meet the strictest quality requirements for the production of medical devices.
Work is also continuing in anticipation of applying for a licence from Health Canada, with the aim of being the first Canadian manufacturer to receive approval for an additively manufactured implantable medical device.
The use of AM for the production of orthopaedic prostheses is expected to raise the quality of care in Québec and reduce the time spent in surgery, and therefore the associated costs. In addition, since the implant is a better fit and more comfortable, patients are expected to recover faster, state the project partners.
The entire Additive Manufacturing sector in Québec are expected to benefit from LARA 3D’s equipment and expertise and will be able to participate in advancing knowledge and techniques. Alkom Digital (a manufacturer of orthopaedic screws) and AP&C (which produces metal powders for AM) are already partnering in the implantable mandibular plate project.
LARA 3D will also make it possible to design and produce other orthopaedic implants in partnership with the private sector and will foster the creation of very high-quality specialised jobs.
“Medical 3D printing will significantly change hospitals by facilitating difficult reconstruction surgery, reducing both operating time and patients’ recovery time and making it possible to produce custom implants at accessible costs,” stated Lyne Dubois, vice president, Investissement Québec – CRIQ.
“As a leader in Additive Manufacturing in Québec, Investissement Québec – CRIQ is proud to open up new possibilities, not only for the health care sector but for the Québec’s entire 3D printing ecosystem, because this infrastructure will also enable other companies to develop their own expertise and innovative products.”
Martin Beaumont, president and CEO, CHU de Québec – Université Laval, commented, “Innovation is one of the core values of the CHU de Québec–Université Laval, and advances in medical 3D printing are concrete examples of the scope of our clinical research mission and ensure that we are constantly expanding the boundaries of science.”
Beaumont added, “We’re very proud of this personalised medicine project piloted by Gaston Bernier’s team and our partners at Investissement Québec – CRIQ, who took on this adventure for the benefit of our patients.”