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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W008092/1
Title: Unravelling the mechanobiology of the craniofacial system- towards a novel therapy (CranioMech)
Principal Investigator: Moazen, Dr M
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Catholic (Radboud) University Foundation Erasmus University Medical Centre Headlines Craniofacial Support
Hospital Necker for Sick Children Kings College London Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust
University of Leeds University of Oxford University of Washington
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Organisation: UCL
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 April 2022 Ends: 31 March 2027 Value (£): 1,548,699
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biomechanics & Rehabilitation Tissue Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
15 Feb 2022 Element Fellowship Interview Panel 15 and 16 February 2022 Announced
09 Nov 2021 Healthcare Technologies Investigator Led Panel Nov 2021 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Our skulls consist of several bones that are joined together along their edges by soft tissues called cranial joints or sutures. During infancy, our skulls grow rapidly in size and shape to accommodate our brain growth. Once the brain has reached its maximum size, soft tissues at the sutures turn into bone to protect our brain and enable us to bite harder.

Our fundamental understanding of the level of forces that our skulls and its cranial joints experience during the growth is extremely limited. This lack of knowledge has limited our ability to advance treatment of a wide range of craniofacial conditions affecting:

children e.g. craniosynostosis is a medical condition caused by early fusion of cranial joints that has very nearly doubled in incidence across Europe in the last 30 years for unknown reasons

adults e.g. large calvarial defects increasingly being used for the management of ischaemic stroke and traumatic brain injury

Thus, this is a huge engineering challenge that requires in-depth investigations using a range of advanced techniques. CranioMech aims to address these engineering challenges and critical gaps in our knowledge while focusing on developing a revolutionary therapy for craniosynostosis (CS).

CranioMech builds on my network of collaborators and strong track record in this field, significant institutional support (ca. £690k), as well as my recent work (in vivo mouse testing) that demonstrates the feasibility of a therapy that could become a reality for children of the 21st century. CranioMech aims to: (1) further expand on my therapy in mouse and unravel the fundamental underlying mechanism by which it works; (2) test its scalability in larger animal models; and (3) carry out a series of proof of concept studies in preparation for the first human trials, while unravelling the biomechanics of current treatments of CS.

This is a truly high risk, high gain multidisciplinary, multi-scale project, combining fundamental principles with significant translational potential. It will use a combination of advanced approaches e.g. computer simulation, manufacturing, imaging, sensing and in vivo experiments to transform the treatment of CS by resolving its unknown mechanics. This is a neglected area, well in line with EPSRC Healthcare Technologies themes and the UK strategy for rare diseases that can offer a beacon of equality, diversity, inclusion (EDI) & responsible research and innovation (RRI).

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