Theme 5: Tissue Engineering for Regenerative Medicine

New Zealand’s Regenerative Medicine position

A ‘player of note’

New Zealand has the capability to make significant contribution to progress in RM. Accordingly, the Centre for Medical Device Technologies [CMDT] is taking a leading role, through its Medical Technologies Centre of Research Excellence [MedTec CoRE], in the development of the RM sector. This embraces goals in line with the enhancement of the health and wellbeing of communities and the pursuit of New Zealand's wider economic and technological advancement.

Go-to person for bioengineering

Prof Peter Hunter, Auckland Bioengineering Institute

New Zealand's RM-related capability and infrastructure is spread across universities, crown research institutes and independent research organisations, district health boards and commercial enterprises. This ranges from basic science and bioengineering right through to commercialisation and marketing. It is reflected also in considerable sophisticated modelling expertise, specialised 'clean' biomaterials development and supply, extensive clinical trialling resources and know-how, and, at this point, a moderate spread of good-quality manufacturing assets.

CMDT can, when required, capitalise on access to a number of enterprises in New Zealand with experience in the lab-to-end user challenge, including the enlightened navigation of regulatory pathways, for CBPs. Additionally, in collaborating in or advising on the establishment of GMP [Good Manufacturing Practice] facilities, a key waypoint on the journey to market, it is able to draw on the know-how of biomedical enterprises specialising in the manufacture of, variously, medical devices, hygiene products, pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals, vaccines, critical biomolecules, cellular repair agents and living cell products.

CMDT has, in support of manufacturing and its translation from lab-based technology, and through Auckland Bioengineering Institute [ABI], strong engineering capabilities extending to the design and development of specialised instruments for use in biological settings such as that of RM. It would and already does apply this capability as challenges emerge, and call on any of a wide range of other technologies to which it has ready access. These include confocal microscopy, OCT [optical coherence tomography], OWLS [optical wavelength lightmode spectroscopy], Raman spectroscopy, NIRS [near infrared spectroscopy], optical methods taking advantage of the biorefingence of isotopic tissue such as tendons, laser scanning cytometry, turbidimetry and high-throughput/rapid-response microarray technology.

Microarray technology may lend itself to the development of a lab-on-a-stick microarray for the rapid analysis of cells in RM production processes. This is a fruitful avenue for exploration by CMDT.

CMDT’s immediate priorities

CMDT is aware of the lack of functional integration between tissue-engineered constructs and surrounding host tissues, which limits the effectiveness and clinical application of current graft technologies. There is a particular need to improve musculoskeletal and skin healing by stimulating new tissue formation.

The CMDT team is focused on innovative new strategies for scaffold-based hard and soft tissue repair and/or regeneration to improve clinical outcomes for both hard and soft tissue regeneration. This will utilise expertise in modelling and 3D printing capabilities to provide tissue-specific 3D scaffolds with optimised topography and growth-factor loading. Scaffolds will be constructed using synthetically- and naturally-derived biomaterials targeted particularly at bone, cartilage, tendon and skin. Its research will also address the regeneration of clinically challenging interfaces between hard and soft tissues.