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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R041628/1
Title: Healing Tissues via Programmable DNA Nanotechnology
Principal Investigator: Almquist, Dr BD
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Dept of Bioengineering
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 19 January 2018 Ends: 18 January 2020 Value (£): 253,043
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biomaterials Tissue Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Growth factors are powerful biological proteins that cells produce and release. They have a key role in instructing our cells how to grow from one cell as an egg into approximately 30 trillion cells that are arranged in a coordinated fashion to create a person. Their influence also continues throughout our lives; if tissues are damaged such as a broken bone or wound on our skin, growth factors coordinate how our tissue heal. Because of this powerful influence, growth factors are highly attractive substances to use as therapeutics to promote tissue repair. While several are used in clinics around the world, their efficacy, safety, and impact are all far from being optimal due to sub-optimal efficacy and a high cost of production. Therefore, in order to truly realise their potential as therapeutics, we need new strategies that revolutionise how we use growth factors clinically.

In this proposal, we will combine aspects of materials science, nanotechnology, and biology to develop a transformational approach to using growth factors as therapeutics. Our approach relies on designing novel nanotechnology-enabled materials that actively harvest growth factors from within the body to then use as therapeutics to heal tissues. This strategy will eliminate the need to produce expensive proteins, dramatically reducing the cost of treatment. Furthermore, it will enable the adaptation of previously approved therapeutics to new areas in tissue repair, speeding up the development of new treatments while also minimising production expenses.

We will demonstrate the ability of our new approach to heal critical size bone defects - that is, bone defects that are too large to naturally heal on their own. This data forms a key component of justifying the translation to the clinic, making this proposal instrumental in bringing this exhilarating new technology to the bedside.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk