The supply chain of biotechnology company AlloSource looks a bit different from the supply chains of other manufacturers—mostly because it hinges on the donation of human tissue.
A different kind of manufacturing: For nearly three decades, Colorado-based AlloSource has transformed donated human tissue from deceased individuals into transplantable products, or “allografts,” that surgeons can use to heal living patients.
- “Something that distinguishes AlloSource among manufacturers is [that] our base materials come from donated human tissue, which makes manufacturing very complex,” said AlloSource Chief Operating Officer Dean Elliott.
- “Donors vary in age, size and many other factors, so a lot of planning takes place to ensure the gift of tissue donation is fully maximized. Each allograft takes a different amount of time to create through a variety of unique processes.”
- Common tissue recovered for donation includes skin to treat burn victims and bones and ligaments for use in orthopedic procedures to restore mobility.
Meeting a need: AlloSource, which today is one of the largest providers of allografts in the world, was founded in 1994 by three organ procurement organizations “out of a need for expertise in transforming deceased human donor tissue into transplantable products,” Elliott said.
- Today AlloSource produces approximately 200 different types of allografts, which are used in surgeries ranging from spinal fusion to shoulder rotator-cuff repair.
- In 2021, the company used tissue from nearly 8,000 unique donors to place more than 200,000 allografts in all 50 states and in 25 countries.
How it works: Following the passing of a donor, a local tissue-recovery agency has just 24 hours to recover the tissue to be made into allografts.
- “One of the miraculous things that happens when someone dies is their cells stay alive—and as long as the tissue is recovered and sent quickly, AlloSource can preserve the tissue while keeping the cells viable,” Elliott said.
Always innovating: AlloSource has made great strides in its field over the past few decades. The company recently patented a method of decellularizing skin, a process that lowers the risk that an allograft will be rejected by a recipient. The method was developed by its R&D and engineering teams.
- This method “keeps our in-house cleanroom usage at a minimum while allowing for a higher volume of processing so that we have enough allografts available to help more patients,” Elliott said.
Meaningful work: At a time of record-high job openings, the biotech organization has a high level of employee retention—thanks to “our unique mission,” Elliott said.
- “We offer competitive pay and benefits and the opportunity to grow in an evolving medical field,” Elliott said. “But we also look for people who are driven by a mission of helping others—and that culture is ingrained in our day-to-day operations.”