University College London and Royal Free Hampstead Hospital

Royal Free Hospital

Royal Free Hospital (Photo by Matt Brown)

UCL and RFH, based on the same site in Hampstead, work together closely on medical education and research and have established the world-renowned the UCL Centre of Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine.

The centre has developed successful new techniques for using nanotechnology to rebuild damaged human tissue, and runs the only facial transplant programme in Britain.

Some burns patients suffer extensive tissue loss, creating the need for large scale tissue transfer. These transfers may be achieved by means of a grafts from a donor or by using specially made replacement tissue engineered (TE) constructs.

Co-operation between the Birmingham and UCL centres will enable research into how nanotechnology and associated reconstructive techniuques can be used to help rebuild damaged tissue in patients with burns.

The UCL team has had notable successes, implanting a TE trachea into a child at Great Ormond Street Hospital and building another trachea for a patient in Sweden.

The UCL centre is led by Profs Peter Butler and Alex Seifalian, and has six post-doctoral, 26 PhD and eight MD students. It runs an MSc in Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine, of which 40% of students have been plastic surgeons.

UCL campus

UCL campus

The centre has developed a number of organs through to commercialisation and also synthesises nanomaterials, fluorescence nanoparticle “quantum dots”, silver, gold and magnetic nanoparticles. Some of these are already undergoing preclinical study.