EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine; Innovation in Medical and Biological Engineering

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering


The Centre for Doctoral Training in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine will provide postgraduate research and training for 75 students, who will be able to research, develop and deliver regenerative therapies and devices, which can repair or replace diseased tissues and restore normal tissue function. By using novel scaffolds in conjunction with the patient`s own (autologous) cells, effective acellular regenerative therapies for tissue repair can be developed at a lower cost, reduced time and reduced risk, compared to alternative and more complex cell therapy approaches. Acellular therapies have the additional advantage as being regulated as a class three medical device, which reduces the cost and time of development and clinical evaluation.

Acellular technologies, whether they be synthetic or biological, are of considerable interest to industry as commercial medical products and for NHS Blood and Transplant as enhanced bioprocesses for human transplant tissues. There are an increasing number of small to medium size companies in this emerging sector and in addition larger medical technology companies see opportunities for enhancing their medical product range and address unmet clinical needs through the development of regenerative devices. The UK Life Sciences Industry Strategy and the UK Strategy for Regenerative Medicine have identified this an opportunity to support wealth and health, and the government has recently identified Regenerative Medicine as one of UK`s Great Technologies. In one recent example, we have already demonstrated that this emergent technology be translated successfully into regenerative interventions, through acellular human tissue scaffolds for heart valve repair and chronic wound treatment, and be commercialised as demonstrated by our University spin out Tissue Regenix who have developed acellular scaffold from animal tissue, which has been commercialised as a dCEL scaffold for blood vessel repair. The concept can potentially be applied to the repair of all functional tissues in the body. The government has recognised that innovation and translation of technology across "the innovation valley of death" (Commons Science and Technology Select Committee March 2013), is challenging and needs additional investment in innovation.

In addition, we have identified with our partners in industry and Health Service, a gap in high level skills and capability of postgraduates in this area, who have appropriate multidisciplinary training to address the challenges in applied research, innovation, evaluation, manufacturing, and translation of regenerative therapies and devices. This emerging sector needs a new type of multidisciplinary engineer with research and training in applied physical sciences and life sciences, advanced engineering methods and techniques, supported by training in innovation, regulation, health economics and business, and with research experience in the field of regenerative therapies and devices.

CDT TERM will create an enhanced multidisciplinary research training environment, by bringing together academics, industry and healthcare professionals in a unique research and innovation eco system, to train and develop the medical and biological engineers for the future, in the emerging field of regenerative therapies and devices. The CDT TERM will be supported by our existing multidisciplinary research and innovation activities and assets, which includes over 150 multidisciplinary postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers, external research funding in excess of £60M and new facilities and laboratories. With our partners in industry and the health service we will train and develop the next generation of medical and biological engineers, who will be at the frontier in the UK in innovation and translation of regenerative therapies and devices, driving economic growth and delivering benefits to health and patients

Planned Impact

Regenerative Medicine been defined as "an interdisciplinary approach, spanning tissue
engineering, stem cell biology, gene therapy, cellular therapeutics, biomaterials (scaffolds and matrices),nanoscience, bioengineering and chemical biology that seeks to repair or replace damaged or diseased human cells or tissues to restore normal function, (UK Strategy for Regenerative Medicine). CDT TERM will focus on acellular therapies, scaffolds,autologous cells and regenerative devices, which can be delivered to patients as class three device interventions, thus reducing the time and cost of translation and which provide an opportunity to deliver economic growth and benefits to health in the next decade. The primary beneficiaries of CDT TERM are patients, the health service, UK industry, as well as the academic community and the students themselves. Recognising that the impact and benefit from CDT TERM will arise in the future, the statements describing impact below are supported by evidence of actual impact from our existing research and training.

Patients will benefit from regenerative interventions, which address unmet clinical needs, have improved safety and reliability, have been stratified to meet patients needs and manufactured in a cost effective manner. An example of impact arising from previous students work is a new acellular scaffold for young adult heart valve repair, which has demonstrated improved clinical outcomes at five years.

The Health Service will benefit from collaborations on research, development and evaluation of technologies, through existing partnerships with National Health Service Blood and Transplant NHSBT and the Leeds Biomedical Musculoskeletal Research Unit LMBRU. NHSBT will benefit through collaborative projects, through technology transfer, through enhancement of manufacturing processes, through pre-clinical evaluation of products and supply of trained personnel. We currently collaborate on heart valves, skin, ligaments and arteries, have licensed patents on acellular bioprocesses, and support product and process developments with pre-clinical testing and simulation. LMBRU and NHS clinicians will benefits from our collaborative research and training environment and access to our research expertise, facilities and students. Existing collaborative projects include, delivery devices for minimally manipulated stem cells and applied imaging for early OA.

Industry will benefit from supply of highly trained multidisciplinary engineers and scientists, from collaborative research and development projects, from creation and translation of IP, creation of spinout companies and through access to unique equipment, facilities and expertise. We have demonstrated: successful spin outs in form of Tissue Regenix and Credentis; successful commercialisation of a novel biological scaffolds for vascular patch repair; sustainable long term R and D and successful licensing of technology with DePuy; collaborative research with Invibio, partnering with Simulation Solutions to develop new pre-clinical simulation systems, which been adopted by regulatory agencies such as China FDA. Our graduates and researchers are employed by our industry partners.

The academic community will benefit through collaborative research and access to our facilities. We have funded collaborations with over 30 academic institutions in UK and internationally. The CDT TERM will support these collaborations and the academic partners will support student research and training. The CDT students will benefit from enhanced integrated multidisciplinary training and research, a cohort experience focused on research innovation and translation, access to our research partners, industry and clinicians. Feedback from existing students has identified the benefit of the multidisciplinary experience, the depth and breadth of excellence in our research base, the outstanding facilities and the added value of the cohort training.


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