Double research boost for tissue engineering community

May 29, 2003

The UK Department of Trade and Industry has recently awarded two biomaterial research projects to a consortium comprising the University of Brighton (School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences), the National Physical Laboratory and Queen Mary College, University of London. The projects: Interactions of Cells with Biomaterials Surfaces and Characterisation and Degradation of Tissue Scaffolds, are central to tissue engineering advances within reconstructive and replacement surgery.

Both projects will continue to be steered by industrial and clinical priorities via the establishment of an Industrial Advisory Group (IAG). The first meeting of members is scheduled for 27th June 2003 and there are still opportunities for organisations to participate. Representing large manufacturing companies, SMEs and NHS specialists, the IAG will provide a focal point for open discussion and the sharing of views on the project. Moreover it specifically adds value to the project through in-kind contributions of materials, access to test equipment, participation in inter-laboratory validation of tests and relevant professional expertise.

Interactions of Cells with Biomaterials Surfaces will focus on developing methods that will enable the biomaterials industry to reproducibly and reliably measure the attachment of cells to biomaterial surfaces.

The interaction of implanted devices with living tissue and individual cells is an important determinant in the success and safety of indwelling prosthetic devices. To this end, this systematic study will utilise human primary cells that have been immortalised by telomerase transfection to ensure that the data generated relate to 'normal' cell behaviour. The materials chosen for the study will represent those that are commonly used in implants e.g. polymers, ceramics, stainless steel and titanium.

Characterisation and Degradation of Tissue Scaffolds, is concerned with identifying suitable procedures for characterising polymer based tissue scaffolds.

Concerns over viral or prion contamination, has made it more difficult to obtain replacement organs from cadavers. A cheaper and potentially much faster route to repair damaged or diseased tissue is to use some of the patients' own cells to grow replacement parts on biodegradable scaffold structures - tissue scaffolds. In anticipation of widespread commercialisation of this technique, the new research aims to improve the development and manufacture of these materials and develop validated accelerated test systems for monitoring biodegradation in vitro that can be related to in vivo performance. The consortium has already begun work on an ASTM Standard Guide for the Physical Characterisation of Tissue Scaffolds in conjunction with an International committee.
Organisations interested in contributing to IAG activities, or receiving more information on the projects should in the first instance contact the Materials Enquiry Point, NPL Materials Centre, Queens Road, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 0LW, Tel: 44-208-943-6701, Fax: 44-208-943-7160, E-mail:

National Physical Laboratory

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