Dr Manus Biggs
Jan 31 2017 Posted: 09:50 GMT

CÚRAM Investigator, Dr Manus Biggs, is one of three Irish researchers to receive a newly launched Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) - Science Foundation Ireland joint research grant of over €1 million, awarded between NUI Galway and the University of Glasgow. The BBSRC and Science Foundation Ireland have entered an agreement to welcome, encourage and support research applications that cut across national boundaries involving collaborative teams led by researchers from the UK and Ireland.

Dr Biggs will co-lead a research programme in conjunction with Professor Matthew Dalby, Professor of Cell Engineering (Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology) at the University of Glasgow. The programme will focus on the development of nanobiomimetic electrically active scaffolds for bone regeneration, with an aim of producing rapid, large area bone grafts in the laboratory environment.

Bone tissue regeneration remains an important challenge in the field of tissue engineering 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 regenerative bone scaffolds suggest that further biomimicry is required before a complete solution to bone regeneration can be delivered. Further evidence has been gathered on the importance of minute electrical and mechanical cues on cell differentiation and function.

“This project will further our current understanding of the joint role of electromechanical stimulation on stem cell function. We need to focus on understanding the cellular response to these subtle electrical and mechanical cues,” says Dr Biggs “We can then understand more fully how these influence cell function and tissue regeneration.”

This joint programme will focus on combining piezoelectric regenerative scaffolds, (piezoelectric materials have the ability to generate an electric charge in response to applied mechanical stress) with nano mechanical stimulation to develop new bone cells from stem cells.

CÚRAM is the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway. Supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and industry partners, CÚRAM’s goal is to radically improve quality of life for patients with chronic illness by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices.

The Centre’s innovative approach incorporates biomaterials, drug delivery, cell based technologies, glycosciences and device design to enhance, develop and validate both traditional and new combinational medical devices, from molecular design stage to implant manufacturing. CÚRAM's devices are being developed with strong clinical collaborations to enable rapid translation of research findings to clinical application.

-Ends-

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