Our third Scibar saw Che Connon, Professor of Tissue Engineering at Newcastle University, deliver a fascinating talk at The Old George.
Professor Connon began by entertaining us with his personal academic journey, which has led him to lead a research group investigating the application of innovative bio-materials to regenerative medicine. He went on to explain the relevance of his talk’s title – ‘taking stem cell research to the frontline’. Indeed, he hopes that his current research will provide a way to deliver stem cells – which have regenerative properties – to the frontline of, for example, battlefields.
Professor Connon took us through his team’s method of encasing stem cells in an alginate gel. The gel protects the cells from the environment so that they remain viable even after several days at room temperature. There is much evidence that stem cells can induce wound healing and Professor Connon’s lab have incorporated these alginate protected cells in to a bandage. Such a bandage could be applied to a wound, for example an ulcer or burn, to speed up the healing process and may have particular benefit in acute injuries.
In addition to would healing, the alginate method offers many exciting opportunities for therapeutics. The talk was followed by an informal question and answer session that produced much discussion!