My team of 14 researchers within RCSI Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) focuses in the area of respiratory medicine including development of novel therapeutic and regenerative approaches for disease treatment. The team has developed significant expertise in and has published extensively on the design and development of smart biomaterial device platforms suitable for use in convergent drug-device delivery systems. These technologies have been developed for application in tuberculosis, cystic fibrosis, cancer and acute lung injury as well as in regenerative medicine. These platforms are designed to enable the clinical and commercial translation of novel gene, protein and cell-based therapeutic strategies. We collaborate extensively with clinical, industrial & biomedical research groups on the development of advanced delivery systems and implants and we are part of SFI Centre in Medical Devices (CURAM) (http://www.curamdevices.ie/). All team members get the opportunity to work closely with hospital-based clinical teams and industrial partners as well as receiving extensive training in scientific publication and research commercialisation.
(1) Kelly C, et al MolPharm. 2014 Nov 3;11(11):4270-9. PMID: 25243784 (2) O'Leary C et al Biomaterials. 2016 Apr;85:111-27. PMID: 26871888 (3) O'Leary C, Tissue Eng Part B Rev. 2015 Aug;21(4):323-44. PMID: 25587703 (4)McKiernan PJ, et al Int J Nanomedicine.PMID: 24143095
Tracheal Implant Programme:
Damage to the tracheal region due to cancer, stenosis, infection or congenital abnormalities currently has very limited treatment options. Tissue engineering (TE) strategies have the potential to overcome the shortcomings of major airway disease treatment through reconstruction of tissue equivalents to replace lost physiological tissue function. Therefore, the aim of this project is to design a novel composite scaffold with suitable biocompatible and mechanical properties for tracheal tissue regeneration. The scaffold will combine the benefits of naturally-derived polymers with the strength of a synthetic material and will be manufactured by an electrospinning process. Scaffolds will be seeded with cells and through the use of a bioreactor the culture and maturation of the neotissue will be supported in a dynamic environment. This project will join the team in developing a novel implant device that will be rigorously studied in vitro and in vivo, paving the way for clinical translation.
Cell-based Therapies for Cystic Fibrosis (CF):
A number of studies have explored the potential for cell-based therapies for CF but several key hurdles exist including the inability to support survival, retention, differentiation and engrafment of the cells once introduced into the patient. We are investigating a range of matrices that either recapitulate the respiratory tract and/or enable successful implantation/delivery of modified cells into the patient?s respiratory tract. In this project we seek to apply these platforms specifically to CF to enable delivery of stem cells to the CF patient airways and thereby support stem cells in vivo for longer to facilitate their paracrine ?bystander? effects while also enabling re-epithelialisation of the loaded cells, a process which has proved highly inefficient to-date with the delivery of ?free? stem cells to the lungs. The scope of this project will cover in vitro and in vivo testing paving the way for clinical translation.