Find a Better Way

Find a Better Way

Find A Better Way charity awarded our team in Glasgow with partners at the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) and the University of Nottingham funding for regenerative medicine research to improve bone-growth-promoting strategies while reducing side effects, with future application on the treatment of landmine and blast injuries. An estimated 1,200 civilians survive landmine accidents every month. Although blast trauma surgical techniques have improved hugely in recent years, it is hoped that future advances in regenerative medicine will improve the quality of life of landmine victims even further. The technologies under development in this project could be used to make lab-grown bone from a patient’s own bone cells. The ultimate vision is ‘off the shelf’ bone that can be delivered anywhere in the world.

This project focuses on technologies based on synthetic materials and the use of bioreactors that maximise the stimulation of bone formation while avoiding any unwanted side-effects. We use of a specific growth factor known as bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2) that occurs naturally in the body and plays an important role in the development of bone and cartilage. Growth factors are produced by cells to tell other cells nearby what to do and BMP-2 is produced in bone when cells recognise the need to generate new bone, for example, if there is damaged bone resulting from a fracture or blast. BMP-2 has been used in surgery with good success, however, problems arise as the BMP-2 is applied at high dose, sometimes causing potentially very serious off-target side-effects. The University of Glasgow team have devised a revolutionary new delivery mechanism based on polymer and protein coatings that should maximise the clinical effectiveness and reduce the side effects of BMP-2. Also, in this project we will use the novel NanoKick bioreactor developed by Professors Matthew Dalby (Cell Engineering, University of Glasgow) and Stuart Reid (Astrophysics, University of the West of Scotland) to stimulate differentiation of MSCs in vitro towards bone regenerative cells. Both techniques will be used in combination to help speed up bone formation in the lab and speed up delivery of lab grown bone to patients. This project has a First-in-Human trial planned to start by the second half of 2020, with a group of patients with comminuted fractures in fingers of the hand. The clinical activities of the project are led. by Profs Andrew Hart, Prof Dominic Meek and Prof Captain Rory Rickard.