3D biomaterials project takes off

A team of scientists from the University of Nottingham is embarking on a £6.5m research project to explore the use of 3D biomaterials.

The project, led by Prof Morgan Alexander from the university’s School of Pharmacy, will look to develop the next generation of materials for use in regenerative medicine, drug delivery, and medical devices.

“Advanced biomaterials are essential components in targeting infectious diseases and cancers,” said Prof Alexander. “Without this leap beyond 2D screening methodologies we will miss new advanced materials because they omit architecture and often poorly represent the in vivo environment.”

“We aim to move beyond the existing limited range of generic bio-resorbable polymeric drug and cell delivery agents to bespoke materials identified to function for specific applications.”

Despite recent advances in the field, the researchers believe there is still a significant information gap concerning the response of cells types to a broad range of materials. The aim of the project is to test a library of materials with various combinations of chemistry, stiffness, topography and shape, exploring how 3D biomaterials interact with certain cells.

The multidisciplinary team will encompass experts from across the university, including Richard Hague, Professor of Innovative Manufacturing. Hague is one of the UK’s foremost authorities on 3D printing, and has spoken to The Engineer on several occasions in the past about the technology

Hague is also director of the EPSRC Centre for Additive Manufacturing. The ESPRC is providing £5.4m of the project’s funding, and it believes developing advanced materials is integral to scientific progress in the UK.

“The development of new advanced materials is vital to extending our capabilities across a wide range of scientific disciplines” said Prof Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s chief executive.

“The work planned as part of this programme grant promises to find new materials that will have many applications in the healthcare sector. This grant will support some of the UK’s talented scientists and help achieve EPSRC’s vision to make the UK the best place in the world to research, discover and innovate.”