Liverpool leads new European tissue engineering project

September 05, 2005

Scientists at the University of Liverpool are leading a major European clinical engineering project that should see human tissue grown from stem cells available for transplant in the next four years.

Scientists will develop the technology to target heart failure, diabetes, chronic ulcers and neurodegenerative diseases in particular.

The £17million project, funded by the European Commission and led by the University of Liverpool and Italian pharmaceutical company Fidia, will accelerate the development of tissue engineering, bringing together the expertise of 23 academic and industrial partners across Europe.

Professor David Williams, Director of the UK Centre For Tissue Engineering at the University of Liverpool, said: "For tissue engineering to be successful clinically, it has to be able to generate exactly the right type of tissue, specific to a patient, in a cost-effective manner.

"This is not really being achieved anywhere in the world yet, but this major new project will bring together a team, with critical mass, and a range of expertise from stem cell biology to bio-manufacturing processes, including ethics and business models."

Tissue Engineering is an emerging technology that will provide therapies for wide-ranging diseases and chronic injuries. It involves taking human cells - such as stem cells - from blood or bone marrow and encouraging those cells to produce new tissue through the use of growth factors.

Researchers in Liverpool have been developing methods of growing a variety of tissue, including human arteries, from adult stem cells. Blood vessels grown in the laboratory could be used to replace furred up arteries in patients suffering from coronary heart disease.

The new project - 'A Systems Approach to Tissue Engineering Products and Processes' (STEPS), is one of the largest research contracts in Europe and a major part of the EU's Framework Six programme.
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University of Liverpool

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