RESTORE was officially launched on January 1st 2019, having received 5.5 million euros of funding from the European Commission.
This project aims to create 3D matrices incorporating smart nanomaterials to repair knee cartilage lesions thereby reducing or delaying the onset of osteoarthritis, which currently affects 242 million people worldwide.
These matrices, explains Meriem Lamghari, researcher at i3S and the coordinator of this European consortium, «are tailored so that they can be implanted and fill the injury site as well as respond to the knee joint mechanical forces. Moreover, they contain smart nanoparticles with regenerative, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. The nanoparticles with regenerative properties can, whenever necessary, be remotely activated with non-invasive methods». For that the project’s team will develop a knee brace equipped with sensors capable of activating the nanoparticles present in the implanted matrix».
RESTORE emerges following constructive discussions between orthopaedic surgeons, tissue engineers, materials researchers and cellular biologists to answer pressing clinical needs. Therefore, explains Meriem Lamghari, «we are proposing two matrices, one based on a polymer already clinically tested in the veterinary sector, namely in large animals, for large knee cartilage lesions; and another matrix generated using bioprinting technology, composed by cartilage cells of human origin to which we will also incorporate the smart nanoparticles. This matrix is more adequate for small lesions».
RESTORE will be executed by a consortium of 10 partners from 6 EU Member States (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden and Finland) and 2 Associated Countries (Norway and Iceland). The RESTORE consortium demonstrates a strong industrial commitment, driven by two SMEs (Askel Healthcare and 3DTECH) and by the RTD (INEB, Oulun Yliopisto, Universitaet ULM, Haskolinn I Reykjavik, Goeteborgs Universitet, SINTEF AS, Universita degli studi del Piemonte orientale Amedeo Avogadro) and this naturally provides to the project an understanding on different business and healthcare cultures, while enabling access to several stakeholders and end-users, providing wide feedback while promoting the project.