“Translating pioneering developmental and stem cell science for patient benefit”

Medical advances have led to a welcome increase in life expectancy, indeed, it is estimated that by 2020, 20% of the UK population will be over 65. However, longevity introduces new challenges: increases in age related diseases and associated reductions in quality of life. The clinical problem is significant, for example in the musculoskeletal arena, skeletal fractures alone cost the European economy 17 billion and the US economy $20 billion annually; the numbers of hip fractures worldwide will increase from 1.7 million in 1990 to 6.3 million in 2050. Stem cell science and regenerative medicine are currently some of the most exciting and promising areas for reparative medicine with the opportunity to enhance our understanding of tissue development and therefore the generation of specifiable tissues, thus improving the quality of life of an ageing demographic.

The Centre for Human Development, Stem Cells and Regeneration (CHDSCR)
(www.stemcells.org.uk ), University of Southampton, part of the £10M Institute of Developmental Sciences, was founded in 2004 as a cross-disciplinary research and translational programme within the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton.

CHDSCR Vision: Translating pioneering developmental and stem cell science for patient benefit.

CHDSCR Mission: Our aim is to understand early human development and fundamental stem cell biology to inform and aid our translation and development of cell therapies for regenerative medicine.

The Centre comprises over 15 multi-disciplinary groups working on fundamental and clinical research encompassing human development, across the spectrum of stem cell research, through to translational delivery for patient benefit, applying tissue engineering and regenerative medicine strategies. The Centre has pioneered the collection and use of human embryonic and fetal tissues for the investigation of normal and abnormal development that informed our work on human embryonic stem cells, human embryonic germ cells and human embryonic/early fetal development, as well as our translational agenda. We were one of the first groups in the world to demonstrate the importance of epigenetics in Osteoarthritis and, in 2014, we undertook the first 3D titanium-bone stem cell impaction bone graft operation in the UK. Our world-leading research programmes harness the translational strength of the Faculty together with an innovative Stem Cell PhD programme to train the next generation of stem cell and regenerative medicine scientists, able to work across boundaries and between multiple disciplines.

The CHDSCR has a strong Outreach programme with a desire not only to train the next generation but to foster an understanding and awareness of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine to the general public. We have developed in collaboration with Winchester Science Centre an extremely successful interactive exhibit entitled Stem Cell Pinball, now on permanent display at Winchester Science Centre and presented to public audiences at Science festivals throughout the country.

The CHDSCR has excellent research facilities including a UK Government licensed human tissue bank and outstanding translational capacity as a consequence of close proximity to over £75M clinical translational infrastructure including the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility, NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and Unit, MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit and the soon to be completed £25M Centre for Cancer Immunology all at the Southampton General Hospital. The CHDSCR collaborates closely with the new £55M Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS) at the engineering and life science interface, utilising unique world-leading approaches to develop interdisciplinary interactions (linking with physical sciences, mathematics and social sciences) across the Faculties of Medicine, Engineering and the Physical Sciences to address the challenge of Repair and Replacement and to aid the development of new approaches to tissue regeneration across the cell spectrum from embryonic to adult and induced pluripotent stem cells. FortisNet exemplifies this approach to address musculoskeletal challenges working from the cellular level and fabricated biocompatible structures for stem cell growth using disruptive technologies to advance repair and regeneration.

The CHDCSR is also addressing some of the issues associated with increases in age related diseases through shared translational research programmes between Southampton and Australasia Universities, as well as linkages across Europe and S. America through shared distinctive world leading expertise combined to take forward nanotechnology, additive manufacturing and stem cell science to address the needs of an ageing population.

“The Centre provides a vibrant and thriving multidisciplinary research environment that enables the translation of pioneering developmental and stem cell science for patient benefit.”

Professor Richard OC Orefyfo, Professor of Musculoskeletal Science and Director, Centre for Human Development,
Stem Cells and Regeneration.