Monday 11 December 2017

New treatment for bone loss could have huge benefits

Dr Declan Devine's synthetic solution is almost ready for trials

Dr Declan Devine is working on an alternative to bone grafts.
Dr Declan Devine is working on an alternative to bone grafts.
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

DECLAN Devine began his third-level study in Athlone IT on a Level 6 course because he wasn't sure exactly what he wanted to do.

Starting on the bottom rung of the higher education ladder was no obstacle to rising quickly to the top, and Dr Devine is now splitting his time between Athlone and one of the world's top universities, Harvard.

He completed both a Level 6 and Level 7 in plastics engineering before graduating with a first class honours degree (Level 8) in polymer engineering, a field that includes, but is wider than plastics.

He said his experience studying in Athlone IT was so positive that he stayed on for his first postdoctoral research position there.

His PhD is in bioengineering and he is now exploring new treatment for patients suffering large areas of bone loss.

He is working in the area of tissue engineering, a crossover between materials science and biology.

It could have huge benefits for people who had surgery to remove cancerous tissues or suffered bone loss due to accident or disease, and also has the added advantage of reducing the costs of surgical procedures.

The Roscommon native is developing a synthetic alternative to bone grafts, which can be problematic; people only have a limited stock of bone that can be transplanted, and transferring bone from another person brings with it risk of infection or disease.

Dr Devine is working on the use of a polymeric scaffold bond together with proteins, which have been proven clinically to aid healing of the bone.

The scaffold will have similar properties to the natural bone.

He hopes to start clinical trials in Boston in the new year.

Dr Declan Devine is currently on a prestigious Marie Curie research fellowship with AIT and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre; a teaching hospital of Harvard University.

Irish Independent

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