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Creating the world’s first 3D bioprinted amphibious leg through a family gift

“I got back in the pool with my two young sons and for the first time was able to dive into the pool with them,” says 34-year-old Marine Corps veteran Dan Lasko, of The Fin, his new 3D printed prosthetic leg. 

For Dan, who lost his leg in 2004 while serving in Afghanistan, The Fin is a life-changer. This revolutionary prosthetic goes seamlessly from walking to swimming. “The Fin is greatly improving my quality of life and allows me to return to my love of swimming,” Dan says. 

Designed and fabricated by Todd Goldstein, PhD, who directs the Northwell Ventures 3D Printing Laboratory, The Fin is the first-ever 3D printed, amphibious prosthetic leg, created using bioprinting. Bioprinting combines the fields of 3D printing and tissue engineering to design and produce implants that use a patient’s own living cells.

Supporting life-changing innovation

The initial seed funding and ongoing support for The Fin came from the Treiber Family Foundation.

The five Treiber brothers have collectively faced orthopedic challenges in their lives, beginning with their father, who had one of the first hip transplants in the U.S. back in the mid-1970s.

This led the Treiber Family Foundation in 2011 to begin supporting the work of Daniel Grande, PhD, director of orthopedic research at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.

With Treiber Family Foundation funding, Dr. Grande began experimenting with bioprinted 3D animal organs and bones several years ago with the help of Dr. Goldstein, his research assistant at the time.

Recognizing the commercial implications of this novel work, Northwell Ventures, the corporate ventures arm of Northwell Health, awarded the researchers an investment that would accelerate the work.

“The Treiber Family Foundation’s early support, followed by the development of The Fin, has resulted in a clinical trial enrolling veterans who have sustained amputations of the leg due to improvised explosive devices,” says Dr. Grande. “The results of the clinical study will allow Federal Drug Administration approval for The Fin to be used by the public at large.”

While the Treibers knew their contributions would improve the lives of orthopedic patients, it’s unlikely they imagined they’d play a role in the creation of something as revolutionary as “The Fin.”

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