Our Current Work
Scientists have known that drugs stick to clays since the 1960s when they found that giving a drug orally to a patient also taking clay-based antacids could negate its activity. The insight that such interactions can be harnessed in the delivery and stabilisation of regenerative niches to stimulate stem- cells is fundamental to much of our group's activity. With Prof Richard Oreffo and Renovos Biologics® we are applying nanoclay gels for the safe and effective delivery of BMP2 (a potent inducer of bone formation) in spinal fusion and fracture repair.
Understanding how cells respond to biomaterials in the body is vital for their safe and effective use in regenerative medicine. Mohamed Mousa and Yanghee Kim have been working to explore stem cell and immune cell responses to nanoclay particles and gels using a wide range of in vitro and in vivo approaches.
Self-assembly, the spontaneous ordering of components into organised structures, is widespread in nature and fundamental to generating complex functions. Building on Roxanna Ramnarine's pioneering work and in collaboration Dr Jeroen Van Duijneveldt, Bristol University, we are exploiting nanoclay colloidal interactions for self-assembly of structured hydrogels and 3D protein patterning. This exciting work has the potential to enable high-resolution control of biological function at a clinically relevant scale
As well as their interactions with proteins and drugs, nanoclays can cross-link polymers. Polymer-clay nanocomposites are interesting because they generate new properties such as self-healing and improved toughness. In this regard, we have developed new nanoclay composites with natural proteins, peptides and polysaccharides with applications in tissue engineering, 3D printing and drug delivery in collaboration with Dmitri Ossipov (Karolinska institute, Sweden), Jons Hilborn (Uppsala University, Sweden), Jinkee Hong (Yonsei University, South Korea) and Jonathan Connelly (QMUL)
Clays have been applied to wounds since prehistoric times. In collaboration with Dr Nick Evans in Southampton we are developing a new nanoclay-based therapy to treat non-healing wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers. We have recently completed the first phase 1 clinical safety trial on healthy skin.
Droplet microfluidics is a powerful approach to miniaturizing experimental processes to allow massive increases in experimental throughput. In collaboration with Jonathan West, Xize Niu and Rahul Tare, Juan Milan is developing a cell culture system for sorting cells and optimising cellular environments for cartilage tissue engineering.