New uses for tissue engineering

Date: July 23, 2015

As a clinical innovation associate with the Medical Technologies IKC, Consultant Paediatric Urologist and Associate Professor Ramnath Subramaniam comes into regular contact with medical engineers at the University of Leeds. These relationships helped him to identify a new use for tissue engineering in his clinical work, now being supported through proof of concept trials by the IKC.

Operations on the lower urinary tract in children are made more difficult as there is often insufficient tissue left to enable a complete repair – especially when repeat surgery is required. Mr Subramaniam decided to try using a decellularised scaffold in these operations to see if the patients’ own cells would grow into it to create new tissue.

He initially used ‘off the shelf’ material, made from pig skin, as this was already approved for clinical use. The results were initially good, but Mr. Subramaniam felt that questions remained and that a better solution could be found.

“Although the operations were successful, we don’t know how well this material will integrate into the surrounding tissue in the longer term,” explains Mr Subramaniam. “Based on what I’d learned through my work with the IKC, I felt that using material which was closer to urinary tract tissue would be more successful.”

Through the IKC, Mr Subramaniam began discussions with the University of Leeds spin out company, Tissue Regenix Group plc, which produces decellularised scaffolds mainly for musculoskeletal and cardiovascular uses. He is now working on a proof of concept study – sponsored by Tissue Regenix – to compare the off the shelf scaffold with a new material developed from bladder tissue by researchers from the University of York.

“The IKC has been instrumental in taking this forward by providing a platform and framework through which companies and clinicians can come together,” says Mr Subramaniam. “Identifying the clinical need and a potential solution is one thing, but without the IKC enabling this kind of collaboration, it would be much harder to turn ideas into reality.”

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