Using theoretical simulation to direct bone tissue engineering

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Development Origin of Health and Disease


The requirement for new bone to replace or restore the function of traumatised, damaged, or lost bone is a major clinical and socio-economic need. Bone formation strategies, although attractive, have yet to yield functional and mechanically competent bone. Bone tissue engineering has been heralded as the alternative strategy to regenerate bone. Understanding how cells function and form matrix, and the fabrication of materials to provide appropriate scaffolding conducive to cell attachment and maintenance of cell function, are central to improving existing protocols. The use of mathematical models to predict skeletal cell behaviour and activity during tissue formation has tremendous potential to enhance understanding of tissue regeneration and ultimately to improve clinical outcomes. We therefore propose a multidisciplinary approach to examine the potential of predictive mathematical modelling to further understanding of bone tissue growth.

Technical Summary

Bone is self-organisational, and remodels its shape and mass according its physical and chemical environment. The project aims to develop simulation tools capable of predicting the biological processes involved in generation of tissue engineered bone substitutes. Specifically we wish to examine the growth and development of cultures of human bone marrow derived osteoprogenitor and of osteoblast-like MG-63 cell populations in 2- and 3-D and to use mathematical models to analyse tissue development, thus providing a more rigorous means to optimize ex vivo bone growth than is currently available. We expect that this will provide new approaches to generate and fabricate tissue constructs for clinical application