£1.3million grant sees Bolton pioneer artificial tendon research

Posted on Wednesday 6th February 2013

Dr Mohsen Miraftab

Researchers at the University of Bolton are set to produce artificial fibres that could be used to repair or replace injured human tendons in the future.

Tendons are the fibrous bands that connect muscle to bone. They are extremely strong in the context of the body, but once damaged are difficult to treat or repair. Tendon injuries are common in sports and physical exercise and can leave athletes side-lined for months.

Bolton is part of a consortium of international universities that has secured €1.5 million (around £1.3 million) of funding for research into ‘functional tendon regeneration using loaded biomimetic scaffolds’.

In layman terms, the consortium will be making artificial tendon fibres made of especially designed smart materials, including fibrous proteins such as collagen. These would then be woven or braided into the body, replacing or repairing damaged tendons.

The University will be working with the National University of Ireland (NUI), Galway and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Around €250,000  (£214,000) will be allocated to Bolton. Two fully-funded researchers and a senior researcher from the University of Bolton have already been seconded to Vornia Limited in Ireland.

Vornia is a spin-off company from NUI that designs and develops biomaterials for medical purposes and commercialisation. The consortium also includes Nwtexnet, a membership organisation which provides support and guidance to technical textile companies in the North West and UK.

The University of Bolton is a world-renowned research centre in the area of smart materials. It pioneers areas such as the biomedical applications of hybrid biomaterials made from sea algae and crab shells for wound dressing applications. It has also developed the world’s first photovoltaic-piezoelectric fibre which can harness electricity from movement, such as wind and wave, and the sun.

Dr Mohsen Miraftab is leading the project at the University of Bolton. He said: ‘Given the importance of such an investigation and practical application of its outcome, success of this research could lead to further pan-European project partnerships for the University.’

The universities secured funding from the Marie Curie Sponsorship Programme. The Marie Curie Sponsorship Programme is a prestigious European-wide research grants system that is available to universities from any nationality or area of research.