Professor Richard O.C. Oreffo
Advances in our understanding of skeletal stem cells and their role in bone development and repair, offer the potential to open new frontiers in bone regeneration. However, the ability to harness these cells to replace or restore the function of traumatised or lost skeletal tissue as a consequence of age or disease remains a significant challenge.
We have developed protocols for the isolation, expansion and translational application of skeletal cell populations with cues from developmental biology informed by in vitro and ex vivo models as well as, nanoscale architecture and biomimetic niche development informing our skeletal tissue engineering approaches . We demonstrate the importance of biomimetic cues and delivery strategies to directly modulate differentiation of human adult skeletal cells and, central to clinical application, large animal in vivo translational studies to examine the efficacy of skeletal stem and cell populations in innovative scaffold compositions for orthopaedics.
These are exciting times in skeletal cell biology and tissue regeneration. While a number of challenges remain and will be reviewed, including the need to harness multidisciplinary approaches that integrate developmental and engineering processes as well as cell, molecular and clinical techniques for skeletal tissue engineering. Nonetheless, advances in our understanding of skeletal cells and the role of environmental cues offer the potential to open new frontiers across the hard tissue interface and exciting opportunities to improve the quality of life of an increasing ageing population.
 Dawson JI, Kanczler J, Tare R, Kassem M, Oreffo ROC (2014). Bridging the gap: Bone regeneration using skeletal stem cell-based strategies - Where are we now? Stem Cells. 2014; 32(1):35-44. doi: 10.1002/stem.1559. Review
Acknowledgements: Funding from the BBSRC, MRC UKRMP and EU FP7 programmes is gratefully acknowledged.
Richard Oreffo holds the chair of Musculoskeletal Science and is co-founder and current Director of the Centre for Human Development, Stem Cells and Regeneration at Southampton. He has held positions at AstraZeneca, and University of Oxford before being appointed to a lectureship in 1999 at the University of Southampton. Richard is internationally recognised for his work on skeletal biology and the mechanisms involved in skeletal stem cell differentiation and bone regeneration. Richard leads a multidisciplinary research group focused on developing strategies to repair bone & cartilage with translation through to patient benefit in addition to understanding bone development; including the role of epigenetics in musculoskeletal diseases. Richard has published over 240 peer-reviewed full papers (~11,000 citations; H index 52), holds a number of visiting professorships, is on the editorial boards of five journals, was awarded a DSc from the University of Oxford in 2015 and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.