Royal Society exhibition

Glasgow synthetic bone project exhibits at Royal Society

The Find A Better Way-funded synthetic bone project at the University of Glasgow is exhibiting at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition this week.

As one of only 22 science projects in the UK included in the annual event, the invitation to exhibit is a real honour for the project led by Professor Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez and Professor Matt Dalby.

Situated in the Royal Society’s historic central London headquarters, the Summer Exhibition is an opportunity for anyone with an interest to learn about cutting edge research directly from the scientists making it happen. An estimated 500 visitors are attending the event each day, including members of the general public, schoolchildren, other scientists and Members of Parliament.

The University of Glasgow stand explains the process of creating the 3D-printed synthetic bone, with multi-sensory demonstrations of how producing bone tissue in the lab works (including a mystery box where the participant can “feel” the lattice of bone tissue that cells attach themselves to). There is also a display that tells the story of Eva the dog, who received an early version of the treatment in the Spring of 2017 in order to save her leg from amputation.

The synthetic bone technology will have a wide range of possible uses in future, but Find A Better Way were especially interested in the huge benefits that synthetic bone tissue could produce for survivors of landmine blasts. Following a severe blast injury, the biggest limit to a surgeon’s options for reconstructive surgery is often bone tissue. Having the ability to extend bones with even a few inches could mean the difference between a patient being fitted with a prosthesis or being bound to a wheelchair for life.

Visiting the exhibition today was Find A Better Way CEO Lou McGrath, who has been an enthusiastic supporter of the project since its launch.

“It is fantastic to see Manuel, Matt, and the team giving the public the chance to see their work up close, and to speak to the scientists and engineers making it possible,” he said.

“We believe this synthetic bone technology will be transformational for landmine blast survivors and also for the wider world. The more people who can learn about what they are doing and get behind it the better.”

Professor Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez says the event has been a huge success.

“It is a huge honour to be one of the small group of projects invited to exhibit at the Royal Society,” he said. “We would like to thank everyone who has worked to make this possible. It has been a fantastic opportunity to share our work with everyone from school children, to our local MP Patrick Grady, who visited us on Tuesday.

“But of course the real excitement will come in the next two years, as we work towards full testing of the biomaterials we are developing. Someday soon we hope our synthetic bone tissue will be helping landmine blast survivors, bone cancer patients, and anyone in need of bone tissue to live a happier, healthier life.”

The Royal Society Summer Exhibition is free to attend and open to the public every day until Sunday 8 July. For more details visit the Royal Society website.