New research collaboration to rebuild chronic ulcers

Two British Universities, the Open University and the University of Oxford, have established a new research collaboration with the Chilean Biotech company, Concorcio Regenero. This is a major strategic commitment to develop an effective affordable treatment for chronic wounds. These are painful, incapacitating and life-threatening ulcers, which form because the body’s natural healing response breaks down. The aim is to develop an ambitious new tissue-engineered treatment for reconstructing chronic wounds.

New collaboration
Pictured here are: Dr Julian Dye (second from left) with Chilean collaborators from Concorcio Regenero and Cell-for-Cell at the first Chilean Congress on Cell Therapy, University of Los Andes.

The British contribution, led by Dr Julian Dye in the Tissue Engineering Group in the Department of Engineering Science at Oxford, is to develop a new artificial skin biomaterial. Dr Dye said: ‘To work with a Chilean partner in order to develop a breakthrough therapy is a tremendous opportunity to achieve real benefit to patients. It is also a significant inter-disciplinary challenge which needs long-term vision and commitment to bring a new therapy to effective clinical practice. Any such project is ambitious, and the British university consortium can access the technical resources and healthcare technology experience to underpin success’.

Scaffold
Prototype fibrin-based tissue scaffold. The hierarchical pore structure based on nano-scale fibre mesh, aims to support mesenchymal stem cells seeded in at the time of grafting to a wound, to provide a template for skin reconstruction and accelerated healing of chronic wounds.

Dr Dye and PhD student, Catriona Inverarity, are aiming to create a microscopic framework known as a ‘scaffold’ to house and protect the stem cells from the outside world. This scaffold is also designed to allow blood capillaries from the tissue surrounding the wound to grow in, and ‘bring it to life’. It must then be absorbed gradually into the body, as the patient’s own cells interact with the stem cells and regrow the lost skin of the chronic wound.

Work in the laboratory is now underway and already a promising process for producing a suitable biomaterial has been identified. Dr Dye said: ‘The midterm plan is to work closely with Concorcio Regenero’s own expertise in stem cells to optimise the product. Then, in the long term, we aim to set this manufacture technology up in Regenero’s facility in Santiago, so that the product can be manufactured and supplied to Chilean clinics for clinical trials’.

This is the first relationship between the University of Oxford and a Chilean biotech company. The potential of this alliance is to introduce a new form of tissue engineering with the prospect of cost effective affordable treatment for the major devastating clinical problem of chronic wounds.

For more information on the Department’s Tissue Engineering research please visit:

http://www.ibme.ox.ac.uk/research/regenerative-medicine/tissue-engineering?searchterm=tissue+engineering+

Published on 30 May 2017