Using stem cells to mend damaged hips

18 Mar 2010 00:00:00.000

PA 54/10


Scientists at The University of Nottingham are aiming to take their innovative lab-based tissue engineering technology closer to the clinic as part of a research project that could revolutionise hip replacement operations in the future.

Researchers in the University’s Schools of Chemistry and Pharmacy are working with colleagues at the University of Southampton on the study investigating the use of bone stem cells instead of bone from deceased donors as part of an innovative new treatment.

The team believe that introducing a patient’s own skeletal stem cells into the hip joint during bone grafting, together with either an appropriate bonding material or donor bone, would encourage regrowth and repair.

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The grafting technique is used to repair the thigh bone and joint during replacement (known as ‘revision’) hip replacement therapy, a procedure in which surgeons introduce donor bone to the damaged area to provide support for the new hip stem.


In the two-year collaborative study, funded by the Medical Research Council, researchers aim to improve the outcomes of this high impact procedure by using adult stem cells from bone marrow in combination with an innovative impaction process and polymer scaffolds.


The polymer scaffolds will be developed by Professors Steve Howdle and Kevin Shakesheff, experts in chemistry and tissue engineering at The University of Nottingham.


Professor Howdle said: “Building on strong collaborations with tissue engineering experts, this new grant will allow researchers at Nottingham to take their materials nearer to the clinic.


“This could have great benefits for patients and also offer a significant cost saving for healthcare authorities but first we need to verify and build upon our preliminary data.


“A major part of the work at Nottingham will involve scaling up the supercritical fluid processing apparatus to create larger and more uniform batches of polymer scaffolds for testing.”


This funding will allow the groups to build on initial studies that show that degradable polymer scaffolds prepared using supercritical carbon dioxide technology can have a dramatic effect on surgical procedures such as inserting a hip implant in revision hip surgery.


The provisional studies carried out in Southampton show that the polymers can aid bone formation through formation of a living/material composite and aid attachment of the hip implant.


Professor Richrd Oreffo, leading the project at the University of Southampton, will use the polymer scaffold and a new impaction process to introduce the patient’s own stem cells to the hip joint.


Professor Oreffo, an expert in musculoskeletal science, said: “Surgeons currently use bone from deceased donors during bone grafting, so introducing a patient’s own stem cells to create a living cell or material composite would be a new approach.


“This is very much the beginning of a project to investigate the potential for this new technique, but our preliminary work suggests this may have significant therapeutic implications.”


— Ends —


Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK’s Top 10 and the World’s Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings.


More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.


The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.


Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives (www.science-city.co.uk) in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Steve Howdle on +44 (0)115 951 3486, steve.howdle@nottingham.ac.uk

Emma Thorne

Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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