Glasgow meeting

Synthetic bone project in full swing

Professors Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez and Matt Dalby from the University of Glasgow hosted Find A Better Way CEO Lou McGrath and representatives from the four other organizations participating in the synthetic bone project on Wednesday. The group met to discuss and explain the different roles they would be playing over the next five years.

The meeting was the first in what will now become a semi-annual event, where leaders from each section of the project will coordinate activities and report their progress to each other and Find A Better Way.

Although the overall project is based at the University of Glasgow, researchers from four other organizations are overseeing key sections that fit their own particular areas of expertise. Here is a quick synopsis of the other organizations and their roles:

The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS), based in Edinburgh, will be providing much of the technical expertise to help translate the science behind the project into a working medical application. Both Professor John Campbell  and Professor Jo Mountford from SNBTS  were present at Wednesday’s meeting. The SNBTS will also help make sure the project meets all the extensive regulatory requirements new medical procedures require, and provide the bank of  mesenchymal stem cells that will be used in the initial trials.

Leading reconstructive plastic surgeon Professor Andrew Hart from the Canniesburn Plastic Surgery Unit (NHS Greater Glasgow) will be heading up the ‘First-in-Man Trial,’ which should start in the third year of the project. As the first surgeon to use the synthetic bone treatment on a real patient, Andrew will be performing an important advisory role in the lead-up to the first trial, making sure the synthetic bone meets the needs of both surgeons and patients. Also helping the project from the NHS will be Professor Rory Rickard (Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon at Plymouth Hospitals), and MrDominic Meek (Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at NHS Greater Glasgow).

Professor Stuart Reid from the University of the West of Scotland is an astronomer by profession, but he is also one of the key players in the development of the Nanokick bioreactor, along with Professor Matthew Dalby and Dr Peter Childs from the University of Glasgow. The Nanokick machine accelerates bone tissue growth by vibrating at very high frequencies and is a key part of the synthetic bone project. Professor Reid is also in charge of developing technologies for safe transportation and storage of synthetic bone.

Dr Jane McLaren, Dr Felicity Rose and Professor Brigitte Scammel from the University of Nottingham will be conducting preliminary experiments with synthetic bone technologies in the lead up to the First-in-Man trial. Wednesday’s meeting was joined by Dr Jane McLaren.

And, of course, there is a growing team of researches and academics at the University of Glasgow, where the project is based and the core technology of the project developed. Besides project lead Professor Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez and Professor Matthew Dalby previously mentioned, the team also includes Professor Jon Cooper, Dr Mathis Riehle, and Professor Elizabeth Tanner. Two new postdoctoral researchers and a project manager have been recruited to work on the practical developments of  the project.

As space-age and futuristic as synthetic bone sounds, the project appears to be well prepared to deliver its promised results on time. We will keep you up to date on progress as it happens.

And, as this is by far the largest project funded by Find A Better Way in terms of participating researchers and institutions, we will be visiting each of the different parts of the project in turn to explain their exciting work in more detail.