Hard tissue reconstruction

Aim: To progress research activities around the reconstruction of hard and soft tissues and take existing innovations within Professor Grover’s research group towards the clinic, in-line with the defined clinical demands of the military.

Background: Bone loss as a consequence of traumatic injury leads to a long-term reduction in physical function and may result in permanent and stigmatising deformity.  Although decades of research into the development of bone graft replacements has resulted in the commercialisation of numerous products, the gold-standard in skeletal augmentation remains autograft tissue. Recent developments in materials chemistry and processing technology offer the tantalising possibility of the restoration of complex skeletal defects, with a full return of function. In the case of maxillofacial defects this would enable reconstruction without long-term deformity.

This project will significantly enhance the current state-of-the-art in skeletal augmentation by developing novel, potently osteoinductive materials and cell delivery vehicles. One such material identified, calcium pyrophosphate, is able to induce substantially greater mineralisation in vitro compared to commercially available calcium orthophosphate phases. Therefore, the team are developing calcium pyrophosphate-based bone grafts to serve as high-performance scaffolds for the regeneration of new hard tissue. Additionally, this project will seek to exploit additive layer manufacturing technologies to enable the production of novel prosthetics to address the needs of the military and civilians alike. The team will push the current capabilities of Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) to enable them to generate fine structures to replace the ossicular chain and for the generation of novel percutaneous implants that have been optimised to prevent infection while providing an anchoring point for external prostheses.

Method: This work will involve the application of novel osteoinductive materials to repair bone defects. The team will initially explore the use of these materials in low-load bearing animal models. Additionally, suitable formulations will also be used for recontouring of the alveolar ridge and mandible through collaborating with max-fax surgeons at the QEHB, thus avoiding long-term deformity.

The team then moves onto working on the development of cell delivery devices that will allow for the application of cell therapies classified as minimal interventions that will enable the restoration of healing of fracture non-unions.

Lastly the team will move on to the utilisation of ALM technologies using laser lithography and extrusion for the treatment of deafness by reconstruction of the ossicular chain. ALM methods will also be used for the structuring of percutaneous metallic implants. Modification of these structures to prevent biofilm attachment and prevent infection following the fitting of osteointegrated percutaneous implants will also be investigated.

Lead researchers