Division of Bioengineering
The research activity within the Division is focused in the following principal themes:
The development of new medical devices and drugs is based on a costly and often ineffective system of testing safety and efficacy which is decades out of date. As a result there is a serious attrition in the delivery of new healthcare products which is damaging to industry, the economy and the health of the nation.
To address this need, a key bioengineering theme at Queen Mary University of London is Predictive Bioengineering in which innovative approaches are developed for testing safety and efficacy of healthcare products including pharmaceuticals, biomaterials, medical devices and other therapeutic solutions. The resulting bioengineering models and methodologies will provide ethically acceptable, cheaper, faster and more reliable predictive testing which will advance the delivery of healthcare innovation.
In particular activity is focused on two areas:
- Organ-on-a-chip models that mimic the physiological and pathological environment of different body organs for drug testing; and
- Computational and experimental testing methodologies that predict the performance of biomaterials and medical devices.
To develop these models and methodologies this research in predictive bioengineering is underpinned by multidisciplinary expertise in biomaterials, microfluidics, biomechanics, sensors and computational modelling. We are supported by industrial stakeholder partners including those wishing to use these bioengineering testing platforms (e.g. GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Baxter Healthcare, DePuy and Wellspect), as well as those developing them (e.g. EmulateBio, Kirstall, Reprocell Europe, BiogelX, Axosim Technologies, CN Bio Innovations and FormFormForm).
Existing projects in this area include the development of organ-on-a-chip and other in vitro models for the study of cancer, cartilage injury, and fibrosis; the development of orthopaedic biomaterial testing platforms and new cardiovascular device testing.
Biomaterials and Bio-interfaces
This research activity aims to develop biomedical technology with enhanced functionality through the development of novel biomaterials and understanding of fundamental phenomena of bio-interfaces. Examples include biomaterial implants with enhanced biocompatibility and functionality; medical diagnostics and sensors; and tissue engineering scaffolds. Biomaterials and bio-interfaces may be engineered to provide essential biochemical, mechanical or topographical signals to living cells thereby regulating critical aspects of cell function such as cell adhesion, migration, proliferation, extracellular matrix synthesis, and stem cell differentiation. Research in this theme covers the following areas:
- micro- and nanofabrication of biomaterials including self assembly systems, peptide based biomaterials
- development of therapeutic delivery systems, in situ biosensors and micro encapsulation technology
- development of novel bioceramics and composites for bone repair and tissue engineering
- computational molecular modelling and simulation of biomaterials and biointerfaces including lipid membranes and drug permeation
The group has an established track record in developing biomaterials as evidenced by the hugely successful bone substitute materials now marketed by QMUL-associated companies; Progentix Orthobiology and Apatech - see Impact
Biomechanics and Mechanobiology
Queen Mary University of London has a long standing, International leading track record in 'biomechanics and mechanobiology'. This multidisciplinary research area examines the influence of biophysical stimuli on biological systems including both the mechanical (biomechanics) and the biological responses. Our researchers are working at a range of length scales from the whole body scale to individual proteins, exploring the importance of biomechanics and mechanobiology in development, health and disease. Studies include those examining a variety of cell and tissue types including cartilage, bone, tendon, epithelial cells, cardiomyocytes, neurons and stem cells and important diseases such as osteoarthritis, inflammation, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Our more translational, applied bioengineering also examines the biomechanics of novel implantable biomaterials, devices and tissue engineered products and interfaces with clinical biomechanics.
Examples of broad areas of biomechanics and mechanobiology research activity at QMUL include:
- The biological response of cells and tissues to biomechanical, topographical and physiochemical stimuli and the fundamental biological signalling mechanisms,
- The influence of pathological stimuli on mechanobiology and implications for understanding and treating disease,
- The biomechanics of living cells and subcellular structures, such as the nucleus, cytoskeleton and glycocalyx,
- The biomechanics of healthy and diseased tissues, including fluid-structure interaction models, dedicated imaging tools, and multiscale models,
- The biomechanics of natural and synthetic biomaterials at the macro, micro and nanoscales,
- The development of electrostimulated polymer systems to mimic muscle biomechanics,
- The biomechanics of orthopaedic and related implants with particular focus on the wear properties of hip prostheses,
- The biomechanics of novel cartilage repair materials,
- Neuromechanics and control priorities of steady and non-steady locomotion,
- The mechanobiology of healthy and diseased cells and vessel walls, including life cell imaging, synthetic biology, cell culture, flow cells and cellular modelling.