1 August 2018Biotechnology

LSIPR 50 2018: Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez and Matthew Dalby

Name: Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez and Matthew Dalby

Organisation: University of Glasgow

Position: Chair of Biomedical Engineering and Professor of Cell Engineering

Last year, two professors’ research led to the first instance of the polymer poly (ethyl acrylate)—PEA—and BMP-2, a naturally occurring protein, being successfully used to regenerate bone tissue to a fully functional, load-bearing state.

Professor Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez, whose career centres on biomaterials and protein interaction, teamed up with Professor Matthew Dalby, who focuses on cell-nanoscale interactions and the control of mesenchymal stem cell self-renewal, in 2014. The collaborators hoped to enhance the understanding of novel scaffolds and hydrogels which impact growth factor efficiency.

With £6.8 million ($9.6 million) in funding from Sir Bobby Charlton’s landmine charity, Find A Better Way, and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the professors began to develop synthetically grown bone tissue for use by trauma surgeons treating landmine blast survivors.

Their bone growth work centres on a particular method which encourages new bone tissue to grow where it would otherwise not naturally regenerate. Although it was previously well known that BMP-2 stimulates bone growth, tests had shown that the protein would spread around the body and cause tissue growth in unwanted places.

Salmeron-Sanchez was responsible for the discovery that PEA, a common ingredient of paint and nail polish, could hold BMP-2 in place, rendering it effective in small doses.

Meanwhile, Dalby invented a specially designed machine, the Nanokick, which is instrumental to the process. Once coated with BMP-2, bone scaffolds are shaken by the invention which stimulates an interaction between the stem cells and growth factor and starts generating bone tissue at an accelerated rate.

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