We are joined by Professor John Hunt, Research Theme lead for Medical Technologies and Advanced Materials at Nottingham Trent University and the academic lead for the Medical Technologies Innovation Facility (MTIF). John has over 3 decades of experience developing breakthrough therapies, devices and technology to repair, replace, augment and in the future regenerate diseased, infected and damaged tissues using material interventions. We asked him his opinion on the potential of electrospinning technology in the cell therapy field.
1. When did you become aware of electrospinning technology?
In my research life electrospinning has been ever present, never in the foreground but always there. There has always been someone locally working with a system. On the first day of my PhD I went in to the “spinning lab” Where they were spinning poly(ether)Urethane for use as vascular grafts using two rigs being driven by BBC micros (google them if that’s not within your lifetime). Then as time has progressed commercial have established themselves in the field either offering the equipment or expertise and capability for advanced material fabrication. This is one of those technologies for which it is easy to visualise the process of creating loose or bonded micro and nanoporous fibrous films, sheets, tubes and mats, which then therefore provides great potential to create cell substrates.
2. How far has electrospinning evolved since then?
It is still underutilised even though it presents the opportunity to control and direct many different material properties to provide matrix for cellular support.
3. What is the future of electrospinning technology in cell therapy?
In this period of therapeutic transition to regenerative therapies using both material and living cells, I’m expecting the controlled definition of materials to become more universally accepted as critical in the scale-up and manufacture of regenerative therapies. This technology offers the ability to scale up reproducibly.
4. Do you see a place for the electrospinning technology in personalised cell therapies?
Controlling cells and defining physiological function requires high quality substrates that can be tuned to meet a particular application and yes tuned for each individual patient. Electrospinning offers the opportunity to do this at scale, rapidly and cost effectively, even though this approach has been around for decades, this has untapped potential.
Explore more about electrospun biomaterials and cell therapy at Cell Therapy Tools page.
About Professor John Hunt:
John Hunt is a full time Professor and research Theme Leader at Nottingham Trent University, leading the theme Medical Technologies and Advanced Materials. He is also the Academic lead for the Medical Technologies Innovation Facility MTIF (www.MTIF.co.uk). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Chairperson of the committee for the specialist interest group Analytical Biosciences. He is a Fellow of the International College of Fellows for Biomaterials Science and Engineering and elected committee member and the treasurer of the college. He is on the International editorial board member for the journal Biomaterials and the Biomaterials and Nanotechnology section editor in the International journal of Artificial Organs. Professor Hunt’s research has been funded by the European Commission, BBSRC, MRC and EPSRC as well as by Industry. Ph.D in 1992 and D.Sc. in 2006. Tissue engineering processes are developed and applied, addressing the key areas of patient treatments requiring intervention using material implantation; the materials of choice also include cells and within that, expertise and intellectual property has been created relating to primary cell sourcing, controlling cell function and phenotype through defining and controlling extracellular matrix interactions, angiogenesis, inflammation and tissue regeneration. Specific applications and knowledge has been applied to and continues to be developed for musculoskeletal tissues specifically cartilage and bone, visceral and vascular tissues.