State of the Art Biomaterials Development and Characterization of the Cell-Biomaterial Interface

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Materials


Our request is in line with the needs of the UK Regenerative Medicine Platform Hub "Acellular Approaches for Therapeutic Delivery". These instruments will support the projects outlined within the Hub and research carried out on biomaterials for treatments in Regenerative Medicine will profit within the Hub and the UK, likely leading to translatable prototypes. The collaborative track record between Imperial College London and the University of Nottingham is stellar, and we aim to continue this record by submitting a collaborative bid for high-end equipment to be used within our Hub. The equipment proposed here will benefit the specific projects from perspective research programmes within Imperial College and the University of Nottingham, as provided by our facilities and instrumentation for many years. Equipment needs for the fabrication of 3D biomaterials include 3D printer, electrospinning rig, plasma treatment system, LCMS, SEC, ElectroForce system and for the characterisation of the cell-material interface include Confocal Raman system, XPS BioCell, FTIR, Observer microscope system, microCT and Plunge freezer to generate a number of high potential prototypes that can be assessed for translation. This step of commercial assessment cannot be reached without having performed a full round of synthetic optimisation and material or biological characterisation using the most high-end equipment available. As well as directly benefiting all current and future members of the UK RMP Hub, we will also provide some of the equipment as a National facility with core support funded from UoN.

Technical Summary

The vision for this equipment bid is to complete the formation of a UK centre of excellence in the fabrication and analysis of acellular technologies. The instruments in our request include a confocal Raman system along with a high-end FTIR, which will be incredibly informative to the cell-material interface and will build upon prior work elucidating and informing phenomena occurring on and between materials and cells. A 3D printer will allow the formation of materials with precise control over morphologies that mimic tissues and other internal structures. A Biocell will elucidate activities occurring on material surfaces under ambient conditions, whist an Electrospinning Rig will produce well-controlled fibrous materials and will become an incredible asset for the production of porous 3D hierarchical scaffolds. These new materials can be treated with plasma to create modified and sterile materials that are otherwise unattainable using standard synthetic procedures. The remaining instruments on our request, which include an Observer microscope system, MicroCT, Plunge Freezer, LCMS, SEC and Electroforce Series II Force instrument will increase the capacity of our facilities to finely characterise our materials or cells on these substrates for applications within Regenerative Medicine. As well as directly benefiting all current and future members of the UK RMP Hub "Acellular Approaches for Therapeutic Delivery", we will also provide some of the equipment as a National facility with core support funded from UoN.

Planned Impact

The impact of these technologies will be broad and directly evident from the results that will arise from improved projects and the dissemination of those results in high-quality publications. The research scientists who will work with these methods will receive the highest level impact, while the knowledge gained within the researched fields will be invaluable.

Within the context of this proposal for high-end instrumentation, direct beneficiaries will be the researchers who will be able to perform their research with the highest quality synthetic and characterisation methods available today. This will translate into far more effective outcomes for the UK RMP Hub in terms of new generations of scaffolds for regenerative medicine as well as state of the art characterisation of the cell-material interface. The Hub will hire a number of talented students and talented and experienced postdoctoral research associates, who can then utilise these excellent resources. Other researchers within the respective programmes of the UK RMP Hub as well as Nationally will also benefit as these technologies will be of signifcant added value for their projects as well. Numerous research programmes within the UK will benefit through access via the Hub. The requested high end equipment will be central to the projects outlined within the UKRMP Hub and high usage is anticipated to meet the needs of the Hub.

Many of the impacts across a wide range of beneficiaries agree with those of the Hub, which include the TSB Cell Therapy Catapult Centre, the UK Industry, NHS and Clinicians, the General Public and Schools and the International Community. A further strategic aspect of this bid is the linkage to other Hubs and Centres. Prof Shakesheff is co-Director of the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative. This Centre will use the national network for those examples of manufacturing that require a materials/cell interaction. Prof Stevens leads the biomaterials development effort for the recently funded BHF Hub in Cardiovascular Diseases at Imperial College and a number of equipment items are required by the BHF Hub. Finally, exploratory discussions with the new Hubs in the stem cell niche and safety have identified that our proposal is complimentary to their bids. We expect that the Hubs announced so far will work together to ensure their bids work together to maximize the benefit to the entire community of this investment.


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Description All equipment has been purchased and research projects are actively benefiting from the equipment.
Exploitation Route There will be a broad application for our results, given that this award has allowed the purchase of numerous techniques that can be used for a number of biomaterial-related studies. One of the most exciting approaches that we are using is the tandem use of these state-of-the-art characterization techniques.
Sectors Healthcare

Description This award has led to the attainment of a range of equipment that allows the state-of-the-art characterisation of cells and materials. We are conducting Raman spectroscopic, FTIR- and AFM-based studies that inform upon phenomena occurring along the cell-material interface.
Title Research Data Supporting "Correlated Heterospectral Lipidomics For Biomolecular Profiling Of Remyelination In Multiple Sclerosis" 
Description Research data supporting the paper: Bergholt, M.S. et al., "Correlated heterospectral lipidomics for biomolecular profiling of remyelination in multiple sclerosis", ACS Central Science, 2017, DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.7b00367. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Title Research Data Supporting "Engineering Anisotropic Muscle Tissue Using Acoustic Cell Patterning" 
Description Raw research data supporting the publication: Armstron, JPK et al., "Engineering anisotropic muscle tissue using acoustic cell paterning", Advanced Materials, DOI: 10.1002/adma.201802649 (2018) 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Title Research Data Supporting "Raman Spectroscopic Imaging For Quantification Of Depth-Dependent And Local Heterogeneities In Native And Engineered Cartilage" 
Description Research data supporting the publication: Albro M. et al., 2018, npj Regenerative Medicine, DOI: 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Description Stevens talk - GRC on Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, Castelldefels, Spain 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Lecture delivered to an international audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019