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
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.”