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Regenerative Bone Growth

The Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation is working in partnership with the University of Glasgow to develop new methods and processes for re-growing bone following an explosive blast injury, a car crash, or any other form of accident that results in a need for new bone tissue. Following a blast injury, bone regeneration is particularly difficult because of the amount of bone that is typically lost and the challenge of providing bone grafts in the required shapes. The idea behind the project is to develop novel technologies that will allow the production of custom designed bone grafts with controlled anatomical shapes. The University is moving forward in developing synthetic bone for use by trauma surgeons to repair the limbs of landmine blast victims and others who have bones that have been shattered.


This technology will give those that have been injured an opportunity to have enough bone repaired for a prosthetic limb to be fitted. This will not only mean a chance for better quality of movement and support of the prosthetic limb but also a better quality of life for the survivor. The technique uses a natural protein called BMP-2 to stimulate bone re-growth and a common substance called poly ethyl acrylate (PEA) to hold it in place. The pioneering treatment is then combined with a 3D-printed bio-degradable plastic scaffold covered with stem cells which, when placed into the original bone cavity of the trauma victims, will start the process of re-growth. The project has the potential to transform the lives of blast survivors and any other patients requiring additional bone tissue. 


The project made global headlines in 2017 when an early version of the research was used to save the leg of a young Munsterlander dog which was receiving treatment at the University of Glasgow. The ultimate vision of the research is the production of ‘off the shelf’ bone that can be properly packaged and delivered quickly, efficiently and safely anywhere in the world. This would include, in particular, countries that continue to be affected by landmines and other explosive remnants of war. 


The research is being lead by Professor Manual Salmeron-Sanchez and Professor Matt Dalby from the University of Glasgow School of Engineering and its Institute of Molecular, Cells and Systems Biology.