Imaging of 3D Engineered Tissues

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Materials Science and Engineering


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Technical Summary

The current proposal outlines research themes on tissue engineering at Sheffield University where a laser scanning confocal microscope with META multichannel confocal detection is requested (with the potential for multiphoton upgrade in the future). The model is for a confocal system to be located in the new interdisciplinary Kroto Research Institute at Sheffield University. This facility will have a suite of GMP accredited clean rooms to enable tissue engineered construct formation under sterile conditions for clinical use. Multidisciplinary research laboratories located immediately next to the clean rooms will support core research and further development of reconstructed tissues. Location of an on-site confocal microscope in the research laboratories will therefore enable the in-depth study of cells in synthetic scaffolds across a number of research programmes. Confocal microscopy is a leading-edge technology and a powerful research tool, enabling the capture of unrivalled high resolution of cells within 3 dimensional constructs as well as in-depth penetration of specimens tagged with very specific fluorophores. This leading edge technology is now becoming a method of choice for the dynamic imaging of cells, tissues and biological systems not otherwise possible by other optical systems. Such a technology is essential for driving the research of our team, understanding a range of interconnected problems spanning the life sciences-engineering interface. Each member of our team has programmes that rely heavily on the need for high resolution microscopy which presently is only partially met by existing fluorescence systems. META confocal technology advances the quality of imaging and flexibility of analysis by such a high degree over standard fluorescence that it is now the new benchmark from visualising cells in vitro or in 3 dimension structures in vivo. It therefore has wide applicability in biology, chemistry and engineering and this is represented by our team of applicants. A central imaging facility will also be essential for maintaining research of an internationally competitive standard and will act as a potent catalyst for attracting high quality collaborations with investigators in the UK and abroad.


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Description The grant allowed the purchase of a versatile imaging system for conducting work on 3D in vitro cells/tissues. The major outcome has been the discovery of several methods for imaging a breadth of cells and scaffolds in 3D as a alternative to using animals.
Exploitation Route The grant has supported a tremendous breadth of outputs - not just those I am personally associated with (immediate outputs herein), but those of many other groups. These outputs have been documented on the webpage cited above and here - (

These findings may be taken forward by devising new methods for further reducing animal research, new methods for SMEs to develop new implants, through to new bioreactors for such methods.
Sectors Healthcare

Description This was an equipment grant for imaging 3D engineered tissues. It has led to a breadth of research represented in several outputs. Parallel findings have arisen including: 1. Design of commercial bioreactors in collaboration with SMEs 2. Design of methods for orthopaedic implants in collaboration with SMEs using 3D in vitro methods.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Healthcare
Impact Types Economic