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The Design and Development of Bone Assist Devices to Aid and Enhance Bone Tissue Regeneration

Project Description

Research project: The prevalence of osteoporosis is increasing with an ageing population and there is a direct clinical need to tackle the issue of poor bone regeneration associated with the disease that directly affects recovery from fragility fractures. These issues are especially relevant in the treatment of fracture sites located at the outer extremities and radius, and poor repair at these sites can lead to enhanced pain, decreased mobility and a reduction in the quality of life.

To address this issue we propose to develop a biodegradable multilayer electrospun membrane for treatments of bone defects via Guided Bone Regeneration (GBR), which will minimize bacterial infection via the production of an antifouling/antimicrobial layer (AL) and support osteogenesis with the incorporation a surface engineered biologically functional layer (FL).

The FL will have tuneable sub-micron defined surface chemistry, topography and stiffness profiles, provided by the growth of bespoke –NH2 presenting polymer brushes onto the underlying electrospun (AL) matrix which will be doped with anti-microbial agents, resulting in an underlying structure that has controllable mechanical and anti-microbial properties.

The combination of these layers will result in Bone Aid devices that will elevate the GBR products to directly implantable biologically active degradable synthetic devices that will reduce occurrences of infection and failure due to poor bone formation and subsequent remodelling via enhanced control of the initial biological interactions.

These devices can be optimised to function in an array of clinical scenarios.

For more details on the research project please contact the supervisors:
Dr Jude Curran, School of Engineering
Dr Raechelle D’Sa (School of Engineering)
Dr James Henstock Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease

Additional supervisors: Dr Dan Jones, Fusion Implants and Dr Jonathan Folb (Consultant Clinical Microbiologist)

Please apply by sending CV and letter of application to Ms Diane Ashton

Training: The University of Liverpool is setting up a Doctoral Network in Technologies for Healthy Ageing to train the next generation of physical scientists and engineers to develop novel technologies and devices to address the challenges faced by older people and our clinical colleagues who work with them. It is structured around three healthy ageing challenges; prolonging independence, maintaining wellness and accelerating recovery.

All students will undertake a specific training programme in conjunction with their research project. A range of training modules have been designed to provide the student cohort with the high levels of scientific knowledge and engineering expertise needed for research and development of devices and technologies appropriate for the Healthy Ageing agenda. Through this approach our students will learn skills that will provide them with a unique advantage to develop technologies appropriate for this community and significantly enhance their employability in this emerging field. At the start of the programme students will have a masterclass session with a consultant in clinical geriatric medicine, a therapist and a social worker to introduce them to the challenges of the older person in the community through case studies. Each student will spend a week with a Consultant Geriatrician in clinics and community visits. This clinician will remain in contact with the student throughout their PhD in the role of a mentor to maintain the interface between their projects and the healthcare challenges. Innovative training sessions will ensure the training and research is grounded in real world challenges and have been constructed to provide Essential Transferable Skills and Subject Broadening Skills. The student will be a member of the Liverpool Doctoral College which provides further training opportunities over all three years of the PGR programme, and includes Inductions (general and safety), E-learning (e.g. Good Research Practice), seminars (presenting as well as attending), outreach opportunities and journal clubs.

Funding Notes

Studentships will be funded for 3.5 years covering the home fees and typical Research Council stipend.
Research Council Doctoral stipend levels and indicative fees for 2019
• National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2019/20 is £15,009
• Research Councils UK Indicative Fee Level for 2019/20 is £4,327

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