Biomaterials Discovery

About the EPSRC Programme Grant in Next Generation Biomaterials Discovery

Next Generation Biomaterials Discovery is a five-year, £6.5m EPSRC-funded programme led by The University of Nottingham, aiming to make the leap from 2D to 3D in the development of advanced materials and realise the true potential of regenerative medicine, advanced drug delivery and medical devices for the future.

With £5.4m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and another £1.1m from The University of Nottingham, Professor Morgan Alexander in the School of Pharmacy and a multi-disciplinary team of experts across the University will collaborate with leading international groups to realise the vision of materials discovery in 3D, while aiming to keep the UK ahead in the global materials competition.

The programme is being delivered by a collaboration between the schools of Pharmacy, Engineering, Chemistry, Life Sciences and Medicine at the University, with collaborators from Dan Anderson (MIT), Jan DeBoer (Maastrict), David Needham (Southern Denmark) and Dave Winkler (CSIRO). The project is being led by Prof. Morgan Alexander in collaboration with Prof. Cameron Alexander, Dr. Felicity Rose and Prof. Martyn Davies and it was funded from November 2015.

Advanced biomaterials are essential components in targeting infectious diseases and cancers, realising the potential of regenerative medicine and the medical devices of the future. A multidisciplinary team spanning Engineering, Science and Medical Faculties in Nottingham, in collaboration with four leading international groups, has combined to realise the vision of materials discovery in 3D. Without this leap beyond 2D screening methodologies we will miss new advanced materials because they omit architecture and often poorly represent the in vivo environment.

The aim is to allow us to move beyond the existing limited range of generic bioresorbable polymeric drug and cell delivery agents currently licensed for use in man and medical device polymers, to bespoke materials identified to function optimally for specific applications.

We know that defining chemistry, stiffness, topography and shape can control the response of cells to materials. This programme will focus on producing and testing large libraries of these attributes in the form of patterned surfaces, particles and more complex architectures. New materials will be identified for application in the areas of targeted drug delivery, regenerative medicine and advanced materials for next generation medical devices.

The 3D screening methods will define a new landscape in biomaterials discovery and create the platforms through which more effective advanced materials will be discovered. Our three ambitious application-focused areas provide high impact examples in which our biomaterials leads are developed towards exploitation in the clinic. These downstream projects will be carried out in both academic and commercial research programmes funded through partnering, licensing and formation of spin-outs as appropriate.

Cell Polymer Microarray (Asha Patel, 2015),

Cell Polymer Microarray (Asha Patel, 2015)


Programme Grant Objectives

The programme has five objectives:

  • We will develop new combinatorial screening approaches to evaluate novel materials with textured surfaces, as particles and porous bodies.
  • We will identify materials with programmable assembly and disassembly with drugs to act as functional particulates for targeted drug delivery.
  • We will identify particles for cell culture in regenerative medicine to control cell delivery and function.
  • We will identify immune instructive chemistry-topography combinations for medical devices to tackle biomaterial rejection and infection in the clinic.
  • We will generate synthetic bacterial communities positioned in 3D gels to investigate how and why bacterial species spatially organize themselves to enhance their virulence and resistance to antibiotics.

Next Generation Biomaterials Discovery

Advanced Materials and Healthcare Technologies, School of Pharmacy, The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 846 6246