Glasgow team’s bone-therapy project shortlisted for Times Higher Education Award

The Find A Better Way-funded team at the University of Glasgow has been shortlisted for a Times Higher Education Award in the “Research Project of the Year: STEM” category.

Widely recognised as “the Oscars of the higher education sector,” being named on the shortlist for this award is a huge honour for Professor Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez, Professor Matt Dalby, and their entire team of researchers and technicians.

The project, which is producing 3D-printed synthetic bone tissue for treating landmine blast survivors, made global headlines in 2017 when an early-version of their work saved the leg of a young Munsterlander dog named Eva.

Although the team did not set out to produce advances in veterinary science specifically, Eva’s successful treatment is nevertheless spurring additional research in the field. This may be just the first of several unexpected benefits the project produces.

“We are delighted that Eva’s recovery has been so successful and that our work has been recognised by the Times Higher Education Award panel,” explained Professor Salmeron-Sanchez.

“I think her story is an indication of the overall potential of this technology,” he continued. “We set out to help landmine blast survivors, but it could eventually help anyone in need of new bone tissue in virtually any situation. That would be a huge accomplishment.”

The main project is now working towards its goal of a “first in man study,” expected in 2020. This will be undertaken with support of surgeons from NHS Glasgow, and use a different technology from the one that was used to treat Eva.

Eventually it is hoped the two technologies will be combined into a single treatment, providing “off the shelf” bone tissue which can be shipped around the world to those in need.

Find A Better Way founder Sir Bobby Charlton received a tour of the team’s labs at the University of Glasgow earlier this year. And, of course, he got to meet Eva. The team also got the chance to show their work to the public at the prestigious Royal Society Summer Exhibition in July.

Meanwhile Professor Salmeron-Sanchez and Professor Dalby wait for 29 November, when they will find out if they are the winners of the Times Higher Education Award at a ceremony in London.