Feasibility study funding winners announced: addressing key challenges in orthopaedic medical device design and manufacture

Feasibility study funding winners announced: addressing key challenges in orthopaedic medical device design and manufacture

June 16, 2014

The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Medical Devices (MeDe Innovation) is widening the national reach of its research by awarding feasibility study funding to shape the future direction of the Centre.
Eight of the UKs leading scientists, engineers and clinicians have been granted awards of  £50k to identify the key challenges and questions that are not currently being addressed in orthopaedic medical device design and manufacture research.
The funds will allow investigators to develop the evidence and refine the research questions that will allow the development of full proposals for funding that can be submitted to existing national and global funding schemes.
A panel of leaders from industry and academia selected the winners from nominations put forward by over 20 universities and companies. The winners showed an exemplary fit with the research challenges being led by the Centre, offered significant  potential and had support from industry.

Prof Alexander M. Seifalian & Dr Deepak M. Kalaskar
UCL Centre for Nanotechnology & Regenerative Medicine, Division of Surgery and Interventional Science, University College London.
Using novel POSS-nanocomposite biomaterial and stem cells, the investigators propose to improve spinal fusion by developing a lumbar fusion cage.
Lower-back pain, a common musculoskeletal disability, affects four in five adults during their life. It is considered a major health problem, as it imposes a great burden (e.g. high treatment costs) on the patients and on society. Fusion surgery carried out using these cages can greatly benefit patients by reducing the risks of disrupting larger area of tissues and nerves, as well as cutting the recovery time through minimally invasive procedures.
Current techniques and instruments for its treatment can be invasive and disruptive to the surrounding tissues – and are therefore moving towards minimally invasive techniques, which are less disruptive and traumatic.
Seifalian and the team using POSS-PCU have been awarded the Medical Futures Innovation Award (2007), Business Innovation Awards from UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) in the Life Sciences and Healthcare category (2009), and most recently the European Life Science Award for the most innovative product.
POSS-nanocomposite biomaterial are core to the next generation of surgical implants with highly successful outcomes in a number of pioneering projects. This led to the development of the world’s first synthetic trachea, lacrimal duct conduit, and bypass grafts (currently under clinical trial).

Dr Nicholas Dunne & Dr Helen McCarthy
Queen’s University Belfast
The investigators propose to test the viability of the synthesis and manufacture of a biomimetic interface to support the re-attachment of soft tissues to bone – a particular challenge when repairing the knee following injury.  Cruciate ligament damage and meniscal tears to the knee are strongly associated with subsequent osteoarthritis, and is the second most common injury of the knee requiring surgical reconstruction.
The group’s approach using a combination of technologies is entirely unique.  The success of the technology would enable a minimally invasive treatment for patients without the need for surgery.
The investigators have authored over 110 peer reviewed papers and leveraged over £4.4m of grant income in two years.

Dr Chaozong Liu, Prof Gordon Blunn, Mr Andrew Goldberg
Institute of Orthopaedic & Musculoskeletal Science, University College London
The investigators will study the mechanical stability and biological fixation of expandable biomimetic osteochondral scaffolds, which have potential to be used for the treatment of large full thickness osteochondral defects (OCDs) – currently impossible to treat without joint replacements.
Patients with OCD often suffer pain, loss of mobility and go on to require a total joint replacement. A total of 78,276 hip replacements and 83,426 knee replacements were carried out in England and Wales in 2010.
The feasibility study will further develop the groups’ novel integrated 3D printing technique to fabricate expandable biomimetic osteochondral scaffolds.
Success will lead to a one-step surgical procedure treatment of OCDs, improving the quality of life of OCD suffers by relieved them from pain and allowing them more mobility.
The research group is made up of a lecturer, professor, and consultant orthopaedic surgeon, all with a strong track record of successful research in interventions for the musculoskeletal system.

MeDe Event