The Musculoskeletal Regeneration program is a multidisciplinary group taking an holistic approach to regenerative medicine for the repair of traumatic injuries of the musculoskeletal system. We combine specialist knowledge in cell biology, polymer chemistry, and bioengineering to investigate cell/material interactions both in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo. In vitro studies focus on the optimal culture conditions for primary differentiated cells (such as osteoblast and nucleus pulposus cells) and stem cells. Ex vivo organ models and complex bioreactor systems are sued to apply physiological load and reduce the number of animal studies required. In vivo studies are then used to validate the results obtained.
The routine use of cell-based therapies involving mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) within the clinic is close. The Musculoskeletal Regeneration program investigates some of the final issues that need to be overcome to enable the use of MSCs for the repair of bone and cartilaginous tissues. To provide a more natural environment and to determine the effect of mechanoregulation on cell behavior, in vitro and ex vivo studies are performed with the aid of bioreactors, which accurately mimic the physiological mechanical environment normally found within the natural in vivo situation.
The interaction between the implanted cells and the biomaterial used as a carrier is crucial for a positive outcome. The material and its topography can profoundly affect the behavior of the implanted cells. Several projects focus on developing tailored biomaterials and investigating how the cells interact with the new material and its surface. The use of 3D printing and additive manufacturing techniques allows for the production of personalized implants with increasing complexity.
Potential solutions devised in vitro are then investigated in vivo, where additional factors, such as vascularization and immunological responses, can be determined.
The Tissue Morphology Focus Area, which is the institutes' core facility for histology and microscopy, supports both the in vitro and in vivo studies.
To develop novel molecular and cell-based therapies for musculoskeletal tissues
To establish patient specific biomarker profiles for personalized treatment of trauma/orthopedic patients
To develop clinically relevant biomaterials and manufacturing technologies for advanced implants and synthetic tissue replacements
To establish in vitro and ex vivo culture models incorporating environmental factors such as mechanical stimulation to reduce in vivo studies