Since 2000, we have been developing novel processing methods to remove cells from human and animal tissues. We are able to preserve essential extracellular matrix components and native structures, thus produce a scaffold material which retains normal tissue function. These functional decellularised scaffolds can be directly implanted to repair and regenerate damaged tissues, without being rejected by the patient.
Our patented process incorporates the use of low concentration detergent (sodium dodecyl sulphate) with protease inhibitors. This gentle washing process removes cellular material without damaging the extracellular matrix proteins. To ensure through cell removal is achieved with minimal structural damage we have developed a range of decellularisation bio-processes suited to each tissue type, ensuring that the resultant scaffold is a functional tissue replacement.
Some of the tissues we are able to decellularise include:
• Aortic and pulmonary heart valves
• Carotid and femoral artery
• Tendon (for ligament reconstruction, with/without bone attachments)
• Meniscus (with/without bone)
We experimentally assess decellularised scaffolds to validate effective processing and assess tissue function; common techniques include histological assessment, biochemical characterisation, cytocompatibility testing and uniaxial biomechanical testing.
Preclinical functional assessment
We use experimental simulators , computational models to assess and predict scaffold biomechanical function, and in vivo models to assess the biological safety of decellularised native extracellular matrix scaffolds prior to use in patients.
Organ and Tissue Culture
We have developed a variety of tissue and organ culture methods and bioreactors, with or without physiological loading, including a system for culturing decellularised tendon scaffolds seeded with mesenchymal stem cells under cyclic tensile strain. These are used in combination with molecular and histological characterisation methods to understand the underlying regenerative mechanisms of decellularised tissue scaffolds.
We have developed scaffolds primarily to be used as class III medical devices or human tissue products to regenerate damaged tissues in the body and have a track record of facilitating translation into clinical use in collaboration with Tissue Regenix Group PLC and NHS BT TES.