The Oxford Centre for Tissue Engineering and Bioprocessing (OCTEB), directed by Prof Cathy Ye, provides engineering solutions to cell/tissue culture in vitro, especially in a three-dimensional (3D) space, as more and more evidence has shown that cells are closer to their natural physiological state when cultured in 3D.
One of the main research activities in the group is the design of bioreactors to control the culture conditions of cells and tissues, including temperature, pH, fluid mixing, nutrient delivery and others. We are developing bioreactors for cell expansion and proliferation for cell therapy. The aim here is to design an automatic system with high reproducibility in the final cellular products.
Biomaterials processing has also been part of the research. Different techniques have been developed, including electrospinning, freeze-drying, 3D printing, amongst others, to provide suitable extracellular matrices to facilitate cell adhesion, growth, migration and differentiation (for stem cells).
Bio-manufacture research focuses on the development of modular equipment and monitoring and control devices to enable intelligent production of cellular therapeutics for stem cell therapy and CAR-T immunotherapy of cancer. The overall aim is to speed up the process from lab to bedside and to reduce the cost of advanced therapeutic medicinal products (ATMP) through intelligent manufacture.
One important application of growing tissues in the lab is to have a supply of model human tissues for drug screening and testing. We have built a 3D breast cancer model by co-culturing human breast cancer cells with endothelial cells in biomaterial scaffolds. Significant funding has been awarded to the group to build a 3D human neural network based on iPSC derived neurons for the application of disease modelling and neurotoxicity testing.