Bubbles for biofilm: acoustic stimulation for drug delivery in fracture repair

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering & the Environment


Bone fractures and their associated complications are a major societal problem that is set to get significantly worse as our population ages. Delayed bone healing and extended rehabilitation contribute to the 39 billion per year cost of bone injuries to the European economy, and approximately 150,000 wrist, vertebral and hip fractures cost the UK £2.1 billion annually. A proportion of bone fractures fail to heal appropriately with current clinical interventions, which include mechanical fixation or, more rarely, biomaterials and/or bioactive agents. New therapies are therefore urgently required. As yet, there is no clinically approved, systemic therapy for bone fracture.
We are developing such an approach. In preliminary work, we have found that nanoparticles (NPs) of known size accumulate at injury sites during specific windows post-fracture. We have used this approach to deliver therapeutic molecules to the injury site selectively at different phases of fracture healing without disrupting the healing tissue, the integrity of which is often critical to satisfactory outcomes (Figure 1). Aside from enabling the passive release of drugs at fracture sites, these observations now provide the exciting opportunity to remotely and actively control drug release and tissue stimulation in bone repair.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509747/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1938469 Studentship EP/N509747/1 25/09/2017 24/09/2020 Gareth Lutheryn
Description Public Health England 
Organisation Public Health England
Department Public Health England Porton Down
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution In this collaboration with PHE, we have created a novel system for the delivery of ultrasound to biofilms to test the efficacy of microbubbles in biofilm treatment. This includes group expertise in modeling, design and fabrication of a device capable of delivering ultrasound in a confined space.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners at PHE took the lead in biological aspects, this included growth and analysis of treated biofilm samples.
Impact A paper publishing this work is currently in the process of being written
Start Year 2017
Description The Brilliant Club 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The Brilliant club aims to increase the proportion of students from underrepresented background that progress onto highly selective universities, I have to date delivered courses in biological science to over 50 students from all regions in the South including London. Full impact reports of placements are available.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019,2020
URL https://thebrilliantclub.org/