Mathematical models for tendon tissue engineering in a humanoid robotic bioreactor

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP


Bioreactor chambers provide a suitable environment to grow cells outside the body, producing tissue which can then be used in surgery. Common failures in surgical tendon repair and limited understanding of the human tendon healing process motivates the production of grafts which better resemble healthy tendon tissue. The novel humanoid bioreactor system, under development at NDORMS by Pierre Mouthuy and others, grows tendon tissue in a flexible chamber. This chamber is attached to a robot which mimics the movement of the human shoulder. In the chamber, cells grow on a biodegradable, porous and deformable scaffold, mirroring the structure of the matrix which normally supports the cells in the body. Using physiologically relevant geometries and mechanical forces in tissue engineering has the potential to produce grafts which are more suited to use in the clinic. In this project, continuum mathematical models of cell seeding in the scaffold, subsequent tissue growth in the bioreactor and the nature of the resulting fluid load delivered to cells will be developed. The models will explore aspects of fluid flow in the scaffold, with the aim of understanding how its geometrical properties affects fluid permeation. Elasticity will be incorporated into models which capture the deformation of the scaffold in response to fluid flow and external forcing. Multi-phase models accounting for cell motion through the
fluid and scaffold will be developed to understand the distribution of cells, a key factor in producing good-quality tissue. The development of mathematical models can help to save time and resources by identifying promising experiments through understanding the role of different physical mechanisms. In addition, the mathematical models generated may be of use in other tissue engineering applications or provide insight into healing mechanisms which would further understanding of fundamental tendon biology.

BBSRC priority areas addressed by this project include: healthy ageing across the lifecourse; the replacement, renement and reduction (3Rs) in research using animals and systems approaches to the biosciences.

Cross Council Priority Areas: lifelong health and wellbeing.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011224/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
2107901 Studentship BB/M011224/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2022 Amy Roberta Kent