Expertise and Equipment in the Regenerative Medicine and Cellular Therapies Division
The Division of Regenerative Medicine and Cellular Therapies is based within the Centre for Biomolecular Sciences and the Boots Science Building. Our laboratories are well-equipped with cutting edge tools and technologies for scientific research in the manipulation and control of mammalian cells and biomaterials development.
3D bioprinting aids the spatial control of cells, biological molecules, and a supporting polymer matrix within a three-dimensional construct. Such constructs can be used as tissue replacements and tissue models for research, drug discovery and toxicology. Our interests focus on developing 3D bioprinting technologies for application in regenerative medicine to address the need for tissues for transplantation. Our laboratories house a RegenHU 3D Discovery™ bioprinter which allows the patterning of three components including cells, hydrogels and polymers in a single construct. The printing software program allows us to utilise files from CT scans to print tissues specific to the patient.
Lead Investigator: Dr Jing Yang
Holographic Tweezers for Cell Manipulation
When a laser beam is shone into a liquid in which small objects are suspended, it is possible to pull those objects towards the beam. This phenomenon is known as optical trapping. By shining a laser beam on to a hologram, multiple laser beams are created which gives this phenomenon a third dimension. Once the object is trapped by the beam, it can be moved very precisely by simply controlling the laser via a joystick or touch screen linked to a computer system. These small objects can include mammalian cells and therefore this system provides a unique way of building very precise multi-cellular configurations or structures in vitro.
Lead Investigator: Dr Lee Buttery
Decellularised Extracellular Matrix Hydrogels
The extracellular matrix (ECM) of mammalian tissues has been used as a scaffold, following decellularisation, for the repair and reconstruction of a number of tissues. We have developed methodologies to produce decellularised scaffolds from bone. In addition, we have produced a soluble form which can be induced to form hydrogels with distinct structural, mechanical and biological properties. We are studying these hydrogels for their potential for clinical delivery and their potential to support tissue regeneration.
Lead Investigator: Dr Lisa White
GET peptide-based cell-penetrating delivery
Glycosaminoglycan-binding enhanced transduction (GET) is a peptide-based system engineered to enhance the activity of cell-penetrating peptides to achieve exceptional intracellular transduction. This technology uses peptides that interact with cell membrane heparan sulphates and promotes cell-penetrating peptide-mediated endocytosis without affecting cell proliferation and viability. This method of delivery is not dependent on extensive positive charge and can be tailored to deliver peptides, recombinant proteins, nucleic acids, nanoparticles, and antibodies.
Lead Investigator: Dr James Dixon
Analysis of Biointerfaces
The analysis of biointerfaces is essential to characterise biomaterial surfaces and study their interactions with cells. We use a variety of complementary surface and interface analysis tools to fully characterise our materials including X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) and Water contact angle (WCA) measurements to name a few. We are developing ways to measure complex biological environments to allow us to develop an understanding of the cell-material interface in situ where low concentrations of biomolecules may be present and surfaces may be hidden. This work is conducted with the Interface and Surface Analysis Centre (ISAC) in collaboration with the National Physics Laboratory (NPL).
Lead Investigator: Dr Mischa Zelzer
Electrospinning is a method of producing both nano- and micro-fibres from natural and synthetic polymers that replicate the morphology of the extracellular matrix. Our research laboratories house an IME technologies climate controlled electrospinning apparatus. Using electrospinning as a core technology, we have interests in the functionalisation of these scaffolds with chemistries to support and influence cell growth and differentiation. Using co-axial electrospinning, we are exploring the incorporation of bioactive molecules for controlled release. Application of electrospun scaffolds for mucosal tissue engineering, including gut, cornea, lung, and for skin wound healing is of particular interest. We also have interests in developing these materials for the 3D cell culture market.
Lead Investigator: Dr Felicity Rose
Controlled Release of Biopharmaceuticals for Tissue Regeneration
Biomolecules, such as growth factors, are important in the regulation of stem cell differentiation and tissue formation. Their delivery to the body requires the development of controlled release strategies such that physiologically relevant doses are delivered over a sufficient period of time to support tissue regeneration. In addition, for tissue engineering applications, there is a need to deliver more than one growth factor, for example to stimulate angiogenesis alongside the promotion of osteogenesis. We have invented numerous new delivery systems for the delivery of growth factors and cells and applied these systems in the regeneration of bone, cartilage, liver, nerve and corneal tissue.
Lead Investigator: Prof Kevin Shakesheff
Bioelectronic sensors and actuators
All cells talk to one another using electrochemical communication systems both for intracellular and extracellular sensing. Malfunctions in these bio-electrical relays underpin disease manifestation. Consequently, to aid our understanding and modulating cell behaviour requires development of bio-electrochemical sensors and actuators that modulate cell function. We have developed new cellular electrochemical biosensors via molecularly tailoring conducting substrates that interface with cells forming the next generation of bioelectronic devices. Allowing for both the sensing and actuating of novel cellular electrical relays with the aim of understanding and treating disease with electroceuticals. The groups work is multi-disciplinary and involves 3D printing of bioelectronics, electroanalytical chemical techniques including amperometry, potentiometry and impedance spectrometry with a suit of Autolab and Versastat potentiostats with low current modules.
Lead Investigator: Dr Frankie Rawson
Image: Postgraduate student breaking down molecules using potentiostat equipment
Through our research in developing a vaccine for the parasite Necator americanus, we are now developing interests in designing materials that can direct and control immune cell behaviour. Understanding how we can control the immune system offers the potential to develop scaffolds that are immunologically silent to avoid rejection, those that control inflammation, and materials that ensure transplanted cells are accepted by host tissues. In addition, we have interests in product quality and support through sterility testing of products destined for the clinic using bacterial 16s ribosomal DNA PCR, and endotoxin testing as an early warning system for biomaterials intended for clinical use. Our research spans fundamental science, where we seek to understand the primary cues directing immune cell behaviour and look to nature to inspire new materials design to interact with or evade the immune system.
Lead Investigator: Prof Dave Pritchard