My research is in two distinct areas:
1) Basic Science - Basic molecular pathology and regenerative medicine. I am a member of the Division of Cell and Tissue Matrix and Regenerative Medicine n the School of Biological Sciences in the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health.
2) Clinical practice-based research – Primarily diagnostics and theranostic molecular biomarkers
Over the years, my coworkers and I have pioneered the development of those molecular pathology techniques required to understanding disease mechanisms at the cellular level in human hard tissues (eg. bone, cartilage). Examples include being the first to use: in-situ RT PCR to detect low copy number transcripts (eg. IL-1 and oestrogen receptors) in bone, and in-situ zymography to identify active matrix degrading enzymes in osteoarthritic cartilage.
Currently our primary research focuses on identifying molecular mechanisms underlying discogenic low back pain and designing novel therapies using regenerative medicine techniques (eg. tissue engineering, stem cell manipulation, gene therapy). Key discoveries include showing that: Imbalances in the IL-1 superfamily drive the intervertebral disc (IVD) pathology underlying back pain; IL-1Ra delivered by gene therapy reverses the cellular dysfunction causing this pathology; autologous mesenchymal stem cells can be differentiated into IVD cells.
In addition, because it is difficult to reproduce the disease conditions of IVD degeneration in animal models, we have advanced understanding of the factors precipitating IVD degeneration and preclinical evaluation of novel therapies, by developing novel tissue culture bioreactor systems that mimic the human disease situation in a controlled environment.
These skills have fed directly into the work that I now do taking novel molecular biomarkers from discovery to roll out in the NHS through MMPathIC.
Clinical Practice-based Research
In my role as Professor of Osteoarticular Pathology, I have been responsible for changing clinical practice through research in two particular areas:
• Defining the impact of adynamic bone disease in renal failure patients and reclassifying renal osteodystrophy to facilitate clinical decision-making.
• Defining the scope of synovial fluid microscopy in early management of arthritis.
- Molecular Pathology
- Regenerative Medicine
- Intervertebral Disc
- Stem Cell Biology
- Fracture repair