World-leading personalised medicine research combining regeneration and chemotherapy is being led by QUT’s Distinguished Professor Dietmar W Hutmacher (pictured).
Under an Advance Queensland grant, Professor Hutmacher is directing a multidisciplinary team which is developing biomaterial (bioink) software and hardware to enable surgeons to use patient-specific 3D printed implants containing anti-cancer chemotherapy for implantation after mastectomy for breast cancer patients.
Professor Hutmacher said the highly porous light-weight biodegradable scaffolds are combined with the patient’s own fat tissue.
“The chemotherapy drugs on the surface of the scaffold allow drugs to be delivered to the cancer site instead of the whole body as is the current practice,” he said.
The scaffold, which is 3D printed with a biodegradable polymer, combines the chemotherapy and the patient’s own cells obtained from liposuction of the thigh or abdomen, growth factor, and regenerative proteins isolated from the patient’s own blood.
Professor Hutmacher said that in a related project the team had developed 3D in-vitro cancer models.
“We use these to study various anti-cancer drugs’ efficacy and release mechanisms so we can take the best combinations and load them into the 3D printed breast scaffold,” he said.
“The chemotherapy drugs on the surface of the scaffold allow drugs to be delivered to the cancer site instead of the whole body as is the current practice.”
“One of the aims of the grant is to perform the research that will enable individualised drug therapies so that each patient receives the right amount and combination of chemotherapy drugs needed to kill off potential cancer cells in the remaining tissue.
“This means patients will have much lower and fewer doses of chemotherapy and lower side effects.”
Professor Hutmacher said QUT and Translational Research Institute biomedical scientists were working closely with surgeons to ensure research was rapidly translated into practical therapies for patients.
“The rapid advances of translational research in tissue engineering have started a new era in personalised medicine,” he said.
”Regenerative medicine will grow as more individualised medicine paradigms to create predictive, personalised, and pre-emptive solutions for tailored delivery of patient-specific healthcare.
“For many national and international universities the goal of bringing engineers and clinicians together to translate from bench to bedside is only a paper exercise. Yet, we are very proud at QUT that without having a medical faculty we ‘walk the talk’.”
Professor Hutmacher mentors a multidisciplinary team composed of bioimaging specialists, TRI director and QUT Professor Carolyn Mountford, breast surgeons Professor Owen Ung and Dr Clement Wong as well as two industry partners, spin-off company Biofabrication Design Solutions (BDS), and 3D Industries.
He has been awarded the title of Distinguished Professor by QUT and is the recipient of the 2017 European Society of Biomaterials International Award for his major contributions to the field of biomaterials and strong collaborations with biomaterial scientists in Europe.
QUT Biomedical Science graduate Madison Ainsworth began her dual international masters in biofabrication this year and will study in Utrecht next year for the European component of her masters degrees. She will focus on the regeneration and enhancement of bone growth in 3D printed scaffolds, under Associate Professor Mia Woodruff, who leads the Biofabrication and Tissue Morphology Group at QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation.
One of the first to complete the dual international masters in biofabrication degree, Madeline Hintz is now working as a clinical research associate to monitor translational research. During her masters study, Ms Hintz developed a library of breast shapes for the 3D printing of biodegradable scaffolds and designed a cell-laden ink to 3D print miniature breast cancer tumours. These constructs may be used to verify the effectiveness of a planned treatment before human trials, or to find an effective drug therapy for an individual’s tumour to aid treatment.
QUT has partnered with Metro North Hospital and Health Service to establish the Herston Biofabrication Institute, the first institute in Australia dedicated to 3D technologies for the hospitals of the future.
The institute will use revolutionary 3D imaging, computational modelling and printing technology to manufacture patient-specific tissue to replace lost or damaged bone, cartilage and other tissue.
Led by Associate Professor Mia Woodruff (pictured), the institute is set to become a world-leader in tissue regeneration and personalised medicine.
“It will focus on developing biofabrication in 3D imaging, 3D computer modelling and visualisation and 3D cell culture and 3D bio-printing to create customised engineered tissue implants, some containing the patient’s own cells,” she said.
Professor Woodruff, from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, said the institute would bring together researchers and clinicians in chemistry, biology, physics, technology, mathematics, engineering and applied clinical practices.