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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S021035/1
Title: Tissue-Responsive Robotic Implants for In Vivo Mechanostimulation-Based Tissue Regeneration (Tissue-RIMOTE)
Principal Investigator: Damian, Dr D
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
B Braun Medical Ltd Harvard University Royal Hallamshire Hospital
Sheffield Childrens NHS Foundation Trust
Department: Automatic Control and Systems Eng
Organisation: University of Sheffield
Scheme: New Investigator Award
Starts: 01 October 2019 Ends: 15 August 2022 Value (£): 208,559
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biomaterials Med.Instrument.Device& Equip.
Robotics & Autonomy
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
31 Jan 2019 HT Investigator-led Panel Meeting - Jan 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Conditions such as long-gap oesophageal atresia (LGOA) and short bowel syndrome (SBS) are two examples of chronic paediatric cases of gastrointestinal tissue reconstruction where up to two thirds of the oesophagus and bowel, respectively, may be missing. These are among the most complex and devastating paediatric anomalies that have a life-long debilitating effect on patients. Their current treatments are not widely available, are complex, primitive, long-term, and have disputed outcome quality. Families and surgeons have long sought an effective treatment to improve these patients' quality of life.

The proposed project aims to initiate an ambitious research agenda for a novel technology for the repair and reconstruction of soft tubular tissues inside the body using robotic and tissue regeneration principles. The underlying technology unifies the fields of tissue engineering, surgery and medical implants into a new concept of 'robotic implants'. The proposed robotic implants are one-size-fits-all linings for tubular tissues that enable autonomous tissue-responsive mechanical interaction with tissues to induce their growth.

Based on evidence from cell biology studies and clinical practice showing how tissues respond to mechanical stimulation in vivo, the proposed robotic implant applies gentle force directly to tissues to induce growth through cell proliferation. Thus, these robotic implants deliver controlled, long-term, customisable and optimal reconstructive therapy for tissues in an unprecedented way. The proposed technology has the potential to restore patients' mobility and social activity, as well as reduce hospitalisation and post-surgery complications, treatment and costs.

This proposal has a pioneering focus: to develop the design, fabrication and control of robotic implants that can physically and physiologically adapt to the changing properties of tissues and stimulate their growth. These robotic implants will consist of fundamental, compact and functional elastomeric strands that can be assembled into an architecture that can elongate with the growing tissue and apply controlled, directional mechanical stimulation to the tissue.

This project is the basis of an exciting interdisciplinary research framework that will allow communities of surgeons, biologists, tissue engineers and tissue mechanics researchers to investigate basic mechanisms of tissue growth and understand the relationships among tissue strain, tissue regeneration and inflammatory responses. In particular, the technology to be developed in this project will be a precursor clinical device for LGOA and SBS. This project also launches an investigation into soft robots that physically adapt and perform inside the body, which is imperative for tissue regeneration and growth as well as for wearable technologies that need to adapt to children's developmental stages.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.shef.ac.uk