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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S003509/1
Title: Developing a humanoid bioreactor for tendon tissue engineering
Principal Investigator: Mouthuy, Dr P
Other Investigators:
Jerusalem, Professor A Stebbins, Dr J A Waters, Professor S
Carr, Professor A Snelling, Dr S Ye, Professor H
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Technical University of Munich
Department: Botnar Research Centre
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 October 2018 Ends: 30 September 2023 Value (£): 1,195,269
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biomechanics & Rehabilitation Tissue engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
01 Aug 2018 HT Investigator-led Panel Meeting - Aug 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Tendon diseases, like other musculoskeletal disorders, represent a growing social and economic burden as our population is aging. They often result in tears, causing pain and disability. Surgical repairs are performed at an increasing rate but patient's outcomes are not promising, with 40% of repairs failing at the shoulder joint due to poor tissue healing. Patients with major tissue loss have particularly little chances of recovering. A promising repair strategy is the use of engineered tendon grafts. Tissue engineering involves the development of bioreactors that generate tendon tissue in vitro using the patient's cells, scaffolds and mechanical stimulation. However, more advanced bioreactors are needed to provide functional tendon grafts. Current bioreactors mostly provide uniaxial cyclic loadings, while evidence suggests that they should provide multiaxial stresses, similar to those found physiologically. In this context, musculoskeletal humanoid robots have the potential to apply realistic stresses. These robots replicate the inner structures of the human body such as muscles, tendons and bones. They have seen major developments in recent years, making it now possible to consider their use for unexplored applications in medicine. The aim of this research project is to investigate the potential of using musculoskeletal humanoid robots as a platform for musculoskeletal tissue engineering and in particular for tendon engineering. The overall hypothesis is that humanoid robots will enable the provision of physiological mechanical stimulation and that, as a result, they will lead to engineered tendons that are more functional than those produced with current stretch bioreactors. To demonstrate this, we are proposing to: (1) design a flexible bioreactor chamber compatible with musculoskeletal humanoids, (2) adapt an existing humanoid shoulder for our tendon engineering applications, (3) define the loading regimes of the humanoid bioreactor based on shoulder rehabilitation exercises, (4) produce tendon constructs with the novel system and demonstrate improvements compared to current bioreactors. Computational modelling and motion analysis will be used to support our work. This pioneering project is a step towards functional and personalised grafts to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs to the society.
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