Publish Date: 
Monday, June 15, 2020 - 14:45

Research at TRI is helping advance regenerative medicine, tissue engineering and cell therapies to overcome the health burden associated with ageing populations and increasing chronic disease incidences.

The Queensland University of Queensland Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation’s (IHBI) Dr Laura Bray is using a background in 3D tissue engineering and culture techniques to lead research to improve cell purity and viability for research, as well as for the manufacture of cell therapies.

Dr Bray is also involved in an IHBI research project developing 3D-printed implants, called scaffolds, which encourage cell growth and tissue regeneration following a mastectomy. The scaffolds degrade safely in time as human tissue replaces it. The research will involve studying the scaffolds in the laboratory for 12 months to ensure long-term growth of normal breast cells and tissues.

“We need to confirm the potential of the scaffolds as a 3D tissue engineering construct, and to investigate normal mammary processes are occurring so that we can be confident of their potential as a future breast implant technology,” Dr Bray says.

Other research areas in which Dr Bray is taking a lead at IHBI include leveraging smart technologies for pre-operative planning and customisation in orthopaedic surgery, and enhancing nanomaterials used in cancer treatment.

In particular, Dr Bray is using 3D models that mimic human tissue to screen and identify chemotherapy-loaded nanoparticles that target cancer cells effectively.

“The cancer microenvironment is influenced by many mechanical, chemical and cellular processes which can’t be depicted in 2D,” Dr Bray says.

“We are developing highly sophisticated 3D models of the cancer microenvironment to more accurately mimic interactions during cancer development.

“Our lab is developing 3D models of breast cancer, prostate cancer and acute myeloid leukaemia. The models can be used for therapeutics testing and studying therapeutic targets for cancer patients.”

Dr Bray is part of an initiative to develop world-class training programs and enhancing industry partnerships to overcome barriers in manufacturing processes and encourage investment in cell-based and tissue engineering therapies.

In late 2019, Dr Bray was appointed Deputy Director of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre for Cell and Tissue Engineering Technologies. The Centre was established with close to $5 million in Federal Government funding as a collaboration between Monash University and QUT to produce industry-ready graduates and early career researchers with innovative, translational and entrepreneurial mindsets to underpin growth in the industry sector.

Dr Bray says regenerative medicine, tissue engineering and cell therapies are promising new technologies to overcome the health burden associated with ageing populations and increasing chronic disease incidences. Yet they often remain in early development phases or early clinical trials because of a lack of investment.

Dr Bray is also co-director of the new Mater-IHBI Breast Cancer Biobank.  See the news report here.

QUT IHBI originally published this article.

Find out more about Dr Bray by visiting her website.

Photo: Dr Laura Bray courtesy QUT.