Skin job

A UK based consortium is to develop automated methods to produce products for use in the emerging field of regenerative medicine.


A UK based consortium of academics at Loughborough, Nottingham, Cambridge, Birmingham and Ulster Universities, as well as industrial partners including The Automation Partnership (TAP) have won an £8 million award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to develop automated methods to produce products for use in the emerging field of regenerative medicine.


The products include human skin, bone, stem cells and organs that can be used to repair and replace defective tissues, or which can be used for drug testing and drug delivery.


The four-year remedi (regenerative medicine – a new industry) programme aims to create reproducible, affordable and effective processes for the scaleable production of cells and tissues that are compliant with current and emerging regulatory rules.


To do this, the remedi consortium will analyse existing manufacturing systems and, using emerging sensing and control techniques, will redesign laboratory bench based processes to enable high volume processing of commercially important yet complex human cell types and structures.


David Williams, Professor of Healthcare Engineering at LoughboroughUniversityand the principal investigator on the project commented: “Taking established biology as our starting point and pragmatically applying proven manufacturing systems and engineering thinking, we believe we will move tissue culture from the bench to create an engineered production process. This will open up a whole new field to provide affordable tissues, as well as the next generation of automated cell culture systems.”


Dr. Andy Morffew, CEO at TAP, concludes: “This is a timely challenge as the world market for tissue engineered products is growing at a phenomenal rate and has been estimated to reach around $750 million by 2008. By automating these processes we can potentially make these new therapies both possible and affordable.”