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New centre to revolutionise medical technology


Newcastle University is to play a key role in a £5.7 million centre being set up to develop tailor-made joint replacements for patients.

The Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Medical Devices will bring together academics, clinicians and industrialists from across the North of England in a bid to maintain the UK’s leading role in the medical technologies industry and improve the quality of lives of patients.

Led by Leeds University, the Centre includes experts from Newcastle, Sheffield, Nottingham and Bradford Universities and aims to transform the way joint replacements and other medical implants are made.

Funded through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), it is one of four new centres for innovative manufacturing announced today by David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science.

Speaking ahead of the BIS Manufacturing Summit on Thursday, Mr Willetts said: “The UK has a proud history of manufacturing but to build on this success industry needs access to the very latest science and technology. This £45 million package of investment will see our world-class research base investigating innovative new manufacturing equipment and techniques. This will support our industrial strategy in a range of important sectors, driving growth and keeping the UK ahead in the global race.”

Kenny Dalgarno, Professor of Manufacturing Engineering at Newcastle University, who will be Deputy Director of the Centre, said the Newcastle team would lead research into developing personalised “near patient manufacturing” processes.

“These novel near-patient and in-clinic manufacturing processes will in the future deliver medical devices that are tailor-made to meet individual patient needs,” he explains.

“Tissue structures will be replicated using 3D printing techniques, building the implants from bioactive materials which support or stimulate the body’s own repair processes, the implant gradually being replaced with natural tissue over time.”

The techniques will be developed for use in the treatment of a range of musculo-skeletal conditions where bones and cartilage need repairing, and could be particularly useful in patients with osteoarthritis.

The medical technology market is estimated to be worth £200 billion worldwide and demand for medical devices is growing fast, driven by ageing populations that expect longer and fuller lives.

The centre will also develop a network of over 300 industrial partners, academics and clinicians focused on medical device innovation and manufacturing. The network will lead the development of new international standards to overcome barriers to adoption in global markets and support the adoption of new technology in the NHS by working with the new Academic Health Science Networks.


published on: 26 February 2013