Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - REGENMED (Regenerative medicine)

Regenerative medicine is an emerging interdisciplinary field of research and clinical applications focussed on the repair, replacement or regeneration of cells, tissues or organs. It holds the promise of regenerating damaged tissues and organs in the body by stimulating previously irreparable organs to heal themselves. Importantly, regenerative medicine has the potential to solve the problem of the shortage of donor organs as well as solve the problem of organ transplant rejection, since the organ cells will match those of the patient.

The range of the utilised approaches included stem cell transplantation, tissue engineering and the reprogramming of cell and tissue types, i.e. transdifferentiation, all of which were carried out at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CRM) at the University of Bath. This was an interdepartmental network set up to enable work on regenerative medicine to be underpinned by an understanding of normal developmental mechanisms. It brought together groups working on developmental biology, stem cell biology and tissue engineering in the departments of biology and biochemistry, chemical engineering and pharmacy and pharmacology.

The aim of this Marie Curie Early Stage Training (EST) project was to train young scientists on the field of regenerative medicine. The project brought to the University of Bath 16 outstanding young researchers from the European Union and further afield, from Italy, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Poland, Israel, India and Argentina, with the threefold aims of:

1. training them in the new science of regenerative medicine
2. establishing new research links with other countries, and
3. enabling them to be better professional scientists in their careers by exposing them to both research specific and transferable skills training.

The fellows undertook research training in all the areas described above. In particular, work was done on the following topics:

1. obtaining a better understanding of the ability to convert liver cells into pancreas cells, i.e. via transdifferentiation, in order to increase the production of insulin that was deficient in type I diabetic patients
2. a related project was the creation of bioartificial tissue from cells using tissue engineering and cell culture. Biodegradable polymer (PLGA) scaffolds were used to grow transdifferentiated liver cells and observe how they were stimulated to become potential pancreatic cells
3. a new gene, RASSF7, was discovered, which was highly expressed in a variety of cancers. The reproach focussed on trying to determine the direct contribution of this gene to tumour progression
4. a model organism, known as the zebrafish, was used to study the way nerves developed allowing a better understanding of protein molecules that were only inherited from the mother
5. a novel protein, termed Zscan4c, was found in mouse embryonic stem cells and its mechanism of action was under investigation by the time of the project completion
6. induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) were first discovered in 2008 and had great potential for therapy. However, studies suggested that reprogramming to a pluripotent state might not always be stable, and this had implications for human therapy
7. hollow fibre membranes, made of poly-lactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA), were developed within a bioreactor system in order to direct stem cell differentiation and thus potentially avoid the problem of needing large quantities of costly growth factors that were required over long periods for stem cell differentiation
8. adult cartilage in joints had limited regenerative and reparative capacities. Human adipose-tissue derived stem cells (hASCs) represented an excellent candidate source for cell therapy and their use was under evaluation by the project consortium
9. a short term visitor learned about microinjection, electrical stimulation of molecular entry into cells, i.e. electroporation, and chick embryo manipulation techniques.

All the above mentioned approaches were to be used further, in order to understand better how to engineer skeletal tissues.

Reported by

United Kingdom
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