MANCHESTER — Nearly two years after founding the project, Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute executive Dean Kamen said he remains convinced in “all of our lifetimes” that human organs will be mass produced.
“There will be a transformative industry that will allow the high volume, high quality ability to make and give to people replacement organs. It is going to happen,” Kamen said Thursday.
During an update summit in Manchester’s Millyard, Kamen said the 2018 state law granting a 10-year state tax holiday to ARMI investor companies has helped attract $200 million of private investment from 132 participating members on top of the $80 million in federal grants.
“The only question is where is that hub going to be and I think it should be in New Hampshire,” Kamen said.
“Once this starts to grow here, it’s not going to move.”
Tom Bollenbach, chief technology officer with ARMI, said the project is working with national laboratories to supply it with the raw material to start producing the rudimentary elements of tissues on a production line the team has created.
“What we need to do as a group is now that we built up the supply side we need to get the demand side,” Bollenbach said. “We need the tissues we are going to end up running with these production components we have now in place.”
Dr. Hannah Strobel with Advanced Solutions Life Sciences said the project is on track to complete production of tissues in two to five years and that organ production will take more than five years.
“Our goal is to have this at every hospital and have tissues built wherever the patient needs it,” Strobel said.
Kamen said that 2018 law also offers any student at a public university in the state to have their loans forgiven if they commit to work on the ARMI project for five years after graduation.
“What we need most are smart, passionate, motivated people,” Kamen said.
Mike Decelle, a dean at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester and ARMI advisor, said the school will be locating a 20,000-square-foot space on the sixth floor of a nearby campus building to offer workforce training for the project along with a business incubator and research and support for the biotech industry.
He pointed out UNH graduates have a 96 percent success rate in getting jobs.
“Our challenge is to do things that compete for this special talent,” Decelle said.
Luis Alvarez with United Therapeutics told the group the partners are identifying those materials needed to take ARMI to the next level.
As it looks to make the basic element of pig lung tissue one place they have identified for building collagen is from tobacco plants.
“So we are looking at, can we make lungs from tobacco products? Mother Nature seems to have a sense of humor,” Alvarez quipped.