Dr Manus Biggs, a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) investigator with NUI Galway’s Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) is one of six Irish researchers to receive a prestigious Career Integration Grant (CIG) award from the Marie Curie Research Fellowship Programme.
Dr Biggs will initiate a new research programme which will focus on the development of nanobiomimetic electrically active scaffolds for bone regeneration, with an aim of regulating cellular recruitment to a site of injury.
Bone tissue regeneration remains an important challenge in the field of orthopaedic surgery and sees a transplantation frequency second only to that of blood. Bone grafting is the current standard treatment; however, given the inherent limitations of this approach, bone tissue engineering and advanced biomaterials that mimic the structure and function of native tissues hold potential as alternative strategies to regeneration.
Current studies in orthopaedics suggest that further biomimicry is required before a complete solution to bone regeneration can be delivered. Furthermore, evidence is gathering apace on the importance of minute electrical cues on cell differentiation and function, thus, new research must focus on understanding the cellular response to subtle changes in electric fields and how these influence cell function and tissue regeneration.
Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of the NFB said: “This Marie Curie award is further indication of the relevance of NFB’s research within Europe and the importance of NFB’s translational research programmes, which are focused on developing novel and exciting biomimetic materials for the next generation of medical devices. We look forward to developing this research in conjunction with our industrial partners in the very near future.”
Dr Biggs’ recently funded CIG project will focus on creating nanoscale fibres from piezoelectric polymers and incorporating these into a mesh-like scaffold that mimics the natural bone matrix. Importantly, these scaffold materials can be utilised for the regeneration of large bone defects, which do not undergo spontaneous regeneration normally.