LATTICE Medical: Printing 3D Bioabsorbable Implants for Breast Cancer Survivors
Breast cancer is the world’s most prevalent cancer, and the second cause of cancer deaths worldwide, affecting 1 in 8 women in the world. In 40% of cases, mastectomy is the usual treatment followed by chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and only 14% of women receive reconstructive surgery after this procedure.
After their first diagnosis, women are at a very high risk of getting breast cancer for the second time, and many choose to have a double mastectomy. This procedure isn’t suitable for frailer patients as long periods under the knife simply aren’t an option, while lengthy (non-life threatening) procedures are difficult for hospitals to schedule. A single or double mastectomy can massively impact a woman’s self-confidence, and I was pleased to come across a company offering breast cancer survivors an incredible solution to an effect of this difficult condition.
EU biomedical start-up, Lattice Medical was launched in 2017 and is in the process of developing a fascinating 3D printed bioabsorbable breast implant called MATTISSE. This is a radically new method for breast reconstruction after cancer. Backed by 6 years of research, and a result of collaboration between a plastic surgeon, biologist, and biochemist from Lille Hospital, Lattice medical offers an innovative technical solution combining the advantages of current techniques. The company is currently in its seed funding round with hopes to gain certification by 2024 and commercialise in 2026.
Today there are currently a few alternative methods to breast reconstruction. These include the following possibilities: immediate reconstruction, a simple correction of a scar, reduction of a large remaining breast to simplify the proper fitting of an external prosthesis, simple creation of a mound on the mastectomy site, insertion of a special prosthesis to fill in the sub clavicular area, and reconstruction of the areolar nipple complex.
Reconstruction is possible for any woman who has had a mastectomy, and LATTICE medical uses an original approach combining advantages of actual reconstruction techniques to provide a simple surgery that is more accessible to the patient.
The team is based at Eurasanté Park business campus, a hospital-university campus home to 13,000 healthcare professionals, 2,000 researchers, and 50 labs. The four worked extensively together across four years in the lab and developed the MATTISE.
“It all started when I met my co-founders — Pierre Guerreschi (a plastic surgeon), Philippe Marchetti (a doctor and biologist), and Pierre-Marie Danze (a doctor and biochemist)” Julien explains.
How does the implant work?
Using biomaterial 3D printing, LATTICE can provide a personalised prosthesis adapted to the shape of the reconstruction area. The desired size is reached after just one surgery with no need for replacement after a decade; breasts are entirely reconstructed by the patient’s own tissues, and no foreign bodies are introduced.
The hollow implant is 3D-printed using the same material found in dissolvable sutures. Then, a sample of healthy tissue is taken from the patient and placed inside the implant which grows out to fill the breast. This absorbable implant is based on a fat tissue growing engineering material made of Calais laces and a personalised 3D shell structure delimiting the reconstruction volume. The process should take around three months, and around 18 months, the implant’s 3D-printed shell dissolves into the body.
“It is a very similar technique to silicone implants because it is a simple and widely used surgery, but instead of silicone, we use autologous tissue to reconstruct the breast,” Julien tells us.
· Designed and made with 3D biomaterials
· Adapted to the individual morphology of the patient
· Fully degrades in a year
Patient Autologous Adipose Tissue Grafting
· Vascular adipose flap tissue inlaid over the Tissue Engineering Chamber (TEC)
· Guided tissue reconstruction
· Regenerates patients’ adipose cells.
Why not silicone?
In France, where the company is based, only 4,000 of the 22,000 women who have mastectomies go on to have their breasts rebuilt due to a lack of confidence in alternative methods. Silicone implants have to be repaired or replaced every 10 years, which poses additional health risks while other alternatives are complex and longwinded.
Silicone implants are not sustainable, and some pose additional health risks, with one of the world’s bestselling silicone breast implants being banned from Europe last year after it was linked to a rare form of cancer.
“Today, if a woman has a silicone implant at the age of 40 or 70 for example, you must keep getting them replaced every 10 years,” Julien told us, “With Lattice, you need only one implant which initially works out more expensive, but it does not need to be replaced in the long run”.
Lattice Medical has run several successful pre-clinical trials on rats and pigs, showing tissue to have regenerated in all the subjects by 90 days, and plans to start its first human trials this year.
They plan to target Europe first with the CE Mark and aim to gain FDA approval later, hopefully around 2024, and the product is expected to go to market in 2026.
The Future for Lattice Medical?
LATTICE Medical has already secured seed funding, working with investors including Reseau Entreprende, Up-Tex, and Inserm and its academic partners include CHU Lille (France), University of Montpellier (France), Ghent University (Belgium), California State University (Los Angeles) and the University of Oxford (UK).
Professor Maria João Cardoso, from Eusoma, agrees that new reconstructive techniques are needed in this field, adding that silicone implants are generally “satisfactory” and that women would prefer a much simpler option that wouldn’t require another surgery every 10 years.
Although the start-up says it is currently solely focusing on mastectomy patients, its techniques also have obvious potential applications in the cosmetic surgery sector where customers spend millions every year on breast augmentation.
It was a pleasure to sit with Julien to discuss LATTICE’s technology, and I appreciate him sharing his knowledge with me. It’s fascinating to see such a progressive and innovative product in development, and we look forward to witnessing how this product will change the lives of many breast cancer sufferers.