Healikick - New EU grant for the Centre for the Cellular Microenvironment

Issued: Mon, 01 Jun 2020 12:00:00 BST

Healikick is a 5M euros Horizon 2020 funded project aiming to deliver next generation bone graft materials for the repair of major critical defects. The team working on the project, led by Professor Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez includes academics from the Universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde, Navarra, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, along with industrial partners at Histocell, Bilbao. The project builds on previous grants from EPSRC, BBSRC, STFC, and the Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation which have developed two novel technologies to stimulate bone formation.

HealiOst is a coating technology which uses a bioactive polymer to control fibronectin fibrillogenesis and present growth factors efficiently at low doses.

Nanokicking is a method of stimulating stem cells to undergo osteogenesis using nano-amplitude vibration. Within Healikick, we will combine these technologies as modular bone graft materials to help tackle the significant clinical challenges often faced in orthopaedic and reconstructive surgery.

Project summary: 

Disruptive technologies for bone regeneration must be able to tackle complex fracture environments which have developed into non-union bone defects. These types of fracture are common and increasingly prevalent when considering the rise in osteoporosis cases. Bioengineered bone graft systems need to be able to guide the regrowth of new bone into substantial voids and therefore implants pre-seeded with mineralising cells are of significant clinical interest. We will implement a surgical co-administration of two robust technologies

1) a granular graft material with a highly osteogenic coating that presents relevant biologics very efficiently and

2) pre-differentiated osteogenic adipose mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) that together will underpin efficient bone regeneration.

Within the project we aim to take these two technologies into GMP and ISO rated manufacture as required for any clinical therapy. We will then implement these therapies in pre-clinical studies to obtain efficacy and safety data to support a full clinical trial application. The novel technologies will be developed into a new medical device and a new cellular therapy with pre-clinical validation for their co-administration. This modular application of two highly advanced therapies is itself highly novel in terms of clinical strategy and by the end of the project we aim to have made the required regulatory and technical developments to submit them for clinical trial. In parallel to the core therapy we will expand the therapeutic pipeline by replacing the granular graft with 3D printed polymeric scaffold, again including including a highly osteogeneic coating, as a carrier for the cell therapy. Targeting even larger bone defects, this scaffold will be co-administered with the cellular therapy in pre-clinical efficacy studies