Biological scaffold technology: its development with the NHS
Researchers at the University of Leeds are collaborating with the NHS Blood & Transplant Tissue Services to develop, optimise and validate biological scaffolds suitable for ligament replacement.
The two partners have worked together for over ten years in the development of tissue decellularisation technology and NHS Blood & Transplant Tissue Services has licenses to apply the technology to human tissue.
The technology provides a means of stripping cells and other components from tissue to leave behind scaffolds. These scaffolds, which are used to replace worn and damaged body parts, become populated with the recipients own cells and thus provide a means of assisting the body in repairing itself.
Supported by the Medical Technologies IKC at the University of Leeds, the ligament replacement project with NHS Blood & Transplant Tissue Services builds on EPSRC funded research and the patented decellularisation technology. It is focused on the anterior cruciate ligament, which is found in the human knee joint.
This is just one of the latest projects in a long history of collaboration and draws on expertise and knowledge housed at the University. “We work very closely with the NHS Blood & Transplant Tissue Services,” says Professor Eileen Ingham who is leading the project. “This project will address several issues: whilst NHS Blood & Transplant Tissue Services already supply three product variants for anterior cruciate ligament replacement, the presence of residual cellular material can sometimes lead to an inflammatory response in patients. Removing the cells from the tissue will make this much less likely.
Along with the project to develop the scaffolds for ligament replacement, the partners are also working on the application of the technology to human heart valves and to aortas. The ongoing relationship between the two parties means that when products are developed and validated, they can be more immediately put to use within the NHS.
NHS Blood & Transplant Tissue Services has a licence agreement to use the decellularisation technology in the United Kingdom for the purpose of carrying out the pre-clinical and clinical evaluation and the manufacture of clinical products and the exploitation of clinical products in the UK.
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