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Institute for Life SciencesOur research

Repair and Regeneration

Repair and Regeneration provides interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities for research and development at the interface of Engineering, Medicine, Life Sciences, Health and Computer Sciences across the lifecourse for improved patient health and quality of life.

Image supplied by Prof Richard Oreffo
Hard and soft tissue repair imaged using Computer Tomography

Repair and Regeneration: Medical advances have led to a welcome increase in life expectancy. However, vastly improved longevity introduces new challenges; increases in age related diseases, socio-economic consequences and of course associated reductions in quality of life. Indeed between 2015 and 2020, the numbers aged over 65 are expected to increase by over 1 million; the numbers aged over 85 by 300,000; and the number of centenarians by over 7,000.

The Repair and Regeneration theme harnesses expertise within Engineering, Medicine, Life and Health Sciences from basic cell and tissue biology through to biomedical device expertise, rehabilitation and assistive technologies and an array of science and engineering technologies.  The theme employs and develops approaches that drive, aid, inform and enhance tissue repair and regeneration across the lifecourse to impact on the societal challenges as a consequence of increased longevity and the desire for improvements in the quality of life for all as a consequence of disease and trauma.

Much of the work is undertaken in interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary teams, including unique access to translational biomedical facilities between the University, IfLS and University Hospital Southampton. Thus the Repair and Regeneration theme encompasses and, ultimately can and does impact on a wide breadth of biomedical areas from Angiogenesis and Alzheimer’s to Ophthalmology and Respiratory Diseases; from stem cells (embryonic, fetal, adult and iPSC) to imaging and microfluidics/nanotechnology through to biomedical engineering and computational modelling.

Image supplied by Prof Richard Oreffo
3D Hip repair – use of innovative printed materials and stem cells

Impact: Our interdisciplinary research within Repair and Regeneration will deliver patient benefit and enhanced quality of life through development of new imaging, tissue repair and regeneration protocols and diagnostic tools using microfluidic/microfabrication and nanotechnology approaches. Thus in the musculoskeletal arena for example our engineers have developed unique hip replacements and we have already translated work using 3D titanium hip plants through to the patient; improved cochlear implants, stroke recovery technology, innovative microfluidics technology for infection testing as well as non-invasive tests for fibrosis severity in chronic liver disease and the treatment of respiratory diseases.

Future potential impact is emerging in the design of biodegradable coronary stents and microfluidic devices for antibiotic resistance tests, monitoring mobility of patients with musculoskeletal diseases and the prevention of biofilms on urinary catheters and medical instruments/implants.

For more information about the Repair and Regeneration theme, please contact the theme lead below:

Related Staff Member

The Institute funds a cohort of interdisciplinary PhD studentships each year. Current postgraduate students in this field include:

Jim Coates

Jim Coates

Podiatric skin health sensing in the diabetic foot

Patricia Goggin

Patricia Goggin

Correlative light, X-ray, and electron microscopy framework for 3D bone imaging at the cell level across the lifecourse

Liana Kontogeorgaki

Liana Kontogeorgaki

Mathematical Modelling of Stem Cell Fate Decisions during early Embryonic Development

Catarina Moura

Catarina Moura

Multimodal label-free imaging for stem cell plasticity and skeletal regeneration

Juan Nunez

Juan Nunez

Utilising high resolution imaging to interrogate blood vessel and bone cell interactions

Edoardo Scarpa

Edoardo Scarpa

Specific targeting of mesenchymal stem cells using polymersomes loaded with Wnt signalling-inducing molecules for tissue regeneration

Key Publications

Image supplied by Prof Richard Oreffo
Fabricating surfaces for skeletal stem cells

Transforming people's lives through bone stem cell therapy: Over 50,000 primary hip replacements are performed each year in the UK, costing £250M.  Work pioneered by our researchers demonstrated the practicability of using patients own bone stem cells together with a biocompatible scaffold to create a 'living bone composite', essentially regrowing a patient's own bone.  We have moved the application of bone stem cells from bench to clinic addressing areas of unmet need, such as the 4,000 people diagnosed with avascular necrosis each year.



Image supplied by the Centre for Hybrid Biodevices
Microfluidic device

Lab-on-a-Chip to detect resistance to antibiotics:  Treating bacterial infections is becoming increasingly difficult due to the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.  Bacterial mutations can mean that the antimicrobial drugs once successfully prescribed to treat an infection may no longer be effective.  Researchers have developed a lab-on-a-chip that can detect whether the bacteria causing the infection are resistant to certain antibiotics in a 10 minute test that can be administered in a GP surgery.  The miniaturised diagnostic system integrates multiple analytical methods with microfluidic technologies and data analysis.  Using fabrication processes in the Zepler Institute Nanofabrication facility, researchers are exploring methods for manufacturing the device that will enable its mass production.

Image supplied by Prof Jane Burridge
Clinical testing of Iterative Learning Control Algorithms

Advancing recovery from stroke:  Through close collaboration between engineers, rehabilitation researchers, clinicians, patients and carers we have transformed simple Functional Electrical Stimulation devices into intelligent, responsive therapeutic interventions.  We have done this through the development and clinical testing of novel Iterative Learning Control Algorithms.  The engineering challenge now is to design wearable electrode arrays and to interpret complex data.  Through EPSRC funded research we have moved from simple movement in a planar robot to controlling stimulation to enable patients to practice everyday tasks.  Our goal is a platform that can be used by therapists, and patients in their own home.

Image supplied by Dr Liudi Jiang
Dr Liudi Jiang tests devices in Blatchford clinic

Intelligent prosthetic liners could ease pain for lower limb amputees:   Mechanical forces at the interface between stump and prosthetic socket could lead to discomfort, pain and stump tissue breakdowns, especially for ill fitted sockets.  In collaboration with Chas A Blatchford & Sons Ltd, Southampton researchers are developing the world's first prosthetic 'intelligent' liner with integrated tri-axial pressure and shear (TRIPS) sensors to monitor the load at this critical interface to aid socket fit and amputee care.  This platform technology could be expanded to many other healthcare sectors and also enable active physical intervention for effective rehabilitation.





Image supplied by Prof Richard OC Oreffo
Collagen expression imaged in bone cells

Multimodal label-free imaging for stem cell analysis and bone repair: Isolation of a homogenous bone stem cell population and controlled modification of the skeletal stem cells offers exciting therapeutic potential in regenerative medicine, with the potential to permanently repopulate a host with stem cells and their progeny. This project examines human bone stem cell plasticity and differentiation, harnessing unique stem cell- material and engineering strategies to generate musculoskeletal tissue and their subsequent evaluation using state-of-the-art multimodal label-free imaging approaches.

List of related projects to
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