Left to Right: Mr Joe Molloy (IPC Polymers), Mr Mark Billham (PPRC), Dr Marion McAfee (IT Sligo).
Joe Molloy, Technical Director with IPC polymers, Mark Billham, Research Fellow at the Polymer Precision Research Centre at Queen's University, Belfast and Dr Marion McAfee, of the Department of Mechanical and Electronic Engineering, IT Sligo, demonstrate an artificial knee joint at the launch the €1million Bio-PolyTec EU FP7 research project. The project aims to progress the commercial availability of bioresorbable and drug-eluting medical implants.
Researchers at Queen’s are collaborating on a €1 million EU funded project to pave the way for people to receive better and cheaper medical implants in a more timely manner.
The Queen’s team are based within the Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC) located in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. The two-year initiative is funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (EU FP7) for Research and Technological Development. The project, termed ‘Bio-PolyTec’, targets greater use of bioresorbable polymer materials rather than metals in implants, thereby bringing important benefits for patients and manufacturers.
Professor Fraser Buchanan, who leads the Queen’s team, said: “Bioresorbable polymers are set to play a major role in the future development of implantable medical devices. They are becoming established in a number of key applications ranging from orthopaedic to cardiovascular. Bioresorbable polymers have key advantages over traditional metal implants. They naturally breakdown into non-toxic by-products and are gradually replaced by the patient’s own tissue, leading to improved patient recovery.”
The materials are seeing increasing application in treatment of trauma and sports injuries, including internal bone fixation devices (screws, plates and pins) and reattachment of ruptured ligaments (suture anchors). Furthermore an innovative new product called ‘RegJoint’ is now produced by project partner Scaffdex, for the treatment of osteo and rheumatoid arthritis in the small joints of the hand and foot. Bioresorbable polymers can also incorporate drugs and bioactive additives, which are slowly released as they degrade, broadening applications to pharmaceutical therapies.
Dr Nicholas Dunne, Director of Queen’s PPRC, says that one of main obstacle to wider use of bioresorbable implants for medical applications has been challenges in their manufacture. With the project consortium now having access to the world-class facilities available within the PPRC there is an opportunity for the Bio-PolyTec team to develop novel monitoring and control techniques which will speed up processing methods and significantly reduce scrap-rate of the costly material.
Mark Billham, PPRC Research Fellow on this project, has extensive industrial and collaborative research experience in many areas of polymer extrusion and polymer materials, and will be working in close cooperation with all industrial and academic project partners.
The project partners are from the UK, Finland, Germany and Ireland. They include academics at two universities, including Sligo Institute of Technology, who coordinate the project, and Tampere University, who originally founded the use of bioresorbable implants. Industrialists include biomaterial processors, device manufacturers and specialists in sensor technology.
The other partners in the initiative are:
- IPC Polymers Ltd (Ireland), a manufacturer of polymer compounds for the medical industry
- Scaffdex Oy (Finland), which makes bioresorbable tissue scaffolds for treatment of arthritic joints
- Fos-Messtechnik GmbH (Germany), whichmanufacture sensors for the process industry, particularly optic sensors and related technologies
- Plasma-Biotal Ltd (UK), who provide bio-active particles for orthopaedic implants.
- Corbion Purac (Netherlands), a manufacturer of bioresorbable polymer
Media inquiries to QUB Communications Office. Tel: 028 9097 3091.
Welcome to this September 2013 edition of the PPRC Newsletter which features some of the EU funded projects in which the Centre has been involved.
Building on last year's success in gaining a Bronze award, PPRC earned a Silver Award in the national environmental accreditation and award scheme run by the National Union of Students.
Working across UK students’ unions, universities and colleges and community organisations, Green Impact supports departments to make simple, tangible and powerful changes in behaviour and policy. From recycling, to investing in more efficient equipment, to encouraging biodiversity, or Fairtrade, the various criteria cover a broad range of issues under the sustainability umbrella.
Photograph shows some of the 48 QUB award winners including William Courtney (middle row, 5th from left) who received the award on behalf of PPRC.
For further details of the scheme visit: http://www.green-impact.org.uk/
Guest Lecture: The Advanced Materials and Processing Research Cluster look forward to a visit from Prof. Graham Cross from the CRANN Institute, Trinity College Dublin, on 28th February 2013. During the visit, Prof. Cross will tour the extensive processing and material characterisation facilities in PPRC and give a lecture on the subject of 'Polymer Deformation During Nanostructure Fabrication by Mechanical Processing' to staff and students in the School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering.
Dr Paula Douglas - Research Fellow, Mr Graham Garrett - Technician
Dr Paula Douglas, Research Fellow, and Mr Graham Garrett,Technician, were recently awarded A Diploma in Packaging Technology at theCollege of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise in Loughry. Along with Mr Alan Clarke, Extrusion Manger,this brings the number of Diploma holders amongst PPRC staff to three.
The Diploma, which is internationally recognised, isvalidated by the Packaging Industry Awarding Body Company (PiABC), theprofessional body for packaging and related industries and covers all aspectsof packaging technology including design and development across a range ofmaterials (metal, glass, paper & board and plastics) as well closures,quality control and the environmental aspects of packaging.
Dr Mark McCourt Speaking at the Design and Innovation in Rotational Moulding Seminar
The Rotational Moulding Group of the British Plastics Federation hosted its annual ‘Design and Innovation in Rotational Moulding’ Seminar on the afternoon of the 30th May 2012 at the London Excel Exhibition Centre. The seminar presented a case for the versatile nature of the rotational moulding process to manufacturers, designers and suppliers.
The medium was a series of case studies helping to educate designers on what can be achieved through the rotational moulding process. These examined a variety of products including a portable hand wash system and a road traffic safety sign.
The Group was also joined by Dr. Mark McCourt of Queens University Belfast who gave a detailed overview of the industry, Dr Nick Henwood of Rotomotive Limited who spoke about the challenges and opportunities that can be achieved through different rotational moulding materials and Hans Petersen of Creactive Design who presented a case study from a designer’s perspective.
The Seminar took place at this year’s PDM exhibition which is the only dedicated design and moulding event in the UK and it is the place for plastics and design professionals to network, learn and be inspired.
Karen Drinkwater, Chair of the BPF Rotational Moulders Group said 'We have been delighted with the response to the rotational moulding seminar at PDM. The wide range of presentations given by our group members really engaged the audience and raised the profile of the rotational moulding sector with those designers present. Increasing the understanding of the process can only be beneficial to the growth of the industry as a whole.'
Jonathan Bloom, Senior Executive at the BPF stated on the day ’there is a host of information on the rotational moulding process and the Group members that can be found on the Group website http://bit.ly/Lpras5
(Left to Right) Mrs Renee Crawford, Prof. Roy Crawford, Mr Jim Bolger, Mrs Joan Bolger, Mr Mark Kearns, Dr Tony McNally
The PPRC played host to some international visitors in early April as former Director and current Vice-Chancellor of the University of Waikato, New Zealand, Prof Roy Crawford, showed University of Waikato Chancellor, Mr Jim Bolger, around the polymer research facilities on offer at Queens. Mr Jim Bolger was the Prime Minister of New Zealand for 8 years and New Zealand Ambassador to USA for 4 years.