Flagship 6: Innovative new strategies for musculoskeletal & soft tissue repair


Skeletal tissue engineering represents a novel leap forward in clinical practice and a new frontier in skeletal medicine. This is a multidisciplinary field in its youth but it is expanding fast. Skeletal tissue engineering requires the presence of a biocompatible scaffold that supports cell growth and enhances the native tissue repair process.

The global tissue engineering and cell therapy market is destined to reach the US$ 20 billion mark at the end of 2015 and is envisaged to grow to over US$ 30 billion by 2018 with the largest segment (60% of the market) being orthopaedic/musculoskeletal applications (Fig 1).

See caption.
Figure 1: The global tissue engineering and cell therapy market

This project combines research expertise in bone, tendon and cartilage biology, with experience in translational in vitro and in vivo models. This is complemented by advanced technology platforms and expertise in 3D Printing and Biofabrication of scaffolds and multiscale computational modelling. Our multidisciplinary team of researchers and clinicians based at the partner universities enable development and application of translational regenerative medicine approaches for orthopaedic tissues. This unique research and training environment includes orthopaedic registrars, bioengineers and cell biologists working amongst senior clinicians and researchers at masters, PhD and postdoc level to deliver novel research capability for clinical and commercial application with industry partners. Our work involves constant feedback and discussions with orthopaedic surgeons and has led to multiple presentations at international conferences, publications in international journals of high repute, an orthopaedic registrar completing an excellent lab-based MSc and an orthopaedic registrar nearing the end of his outstanding lab-based PhD. In addition, two competent bioengineering students completed an MSc and a PhD in computational modelling.


Principal Investigators

University of Auckland

University of Otago

Associate Investigators

University of Auckland

  • Dr David Musson
  • Dr Dorit Naot

University of Otago, Christchurch

  • Dr Ben Schon
  • Dr Khoon Lim

Clinical Partners

  • Professor Gary Hooper
  • Mr Jacob Munro
  • Mr John Ferguson
  • Mr Brendan Coleman
  • Mr Jeremy Simcock
  • Dr Ryan Gao
  • Dr Matthew Street

Our Work

The initial milestones, with an indication of current progress are:

1. 3D Printed Scaffolds for Rotator Cuff Repair

2. In Vitro Assessment of Scaffolds for Bone Repair

3. In Vivo Assessment of Scaffolds for Rotator Cuff Repair

The Regenerative Medicine flagship programme aims to use biofabrication techniques, in-depth biological knowledge and expertise in a range of assessment tools to translate outcomes from promising research platforms into marketable therapeutic products. Throughout these milestones we constantly interact with clinicians and commercial entities within New Zealand and internationally. This platform research has strong people development, not only are we producing a platform for orthopaedic research training but also multidisciplinary biologists and bioengineers. We are using established basic principles and methodologies to perform this research and not developing new basic science. It is indeed translational research.


  • University of Auckland
  • University of Otago
  • University of Otago, Christchurch


  1. Positive and Negative Bioimprinted Polymeric Substrates: New Platforms for Cell Culture
  2. The Effects of Topical Agents on Paranasal Sinus Mucosa Healing: A Rabbit Study
  3. In Vitro Evaluation of a Novel Non-mulberry Silk Scaffold for Use in Tendon Regeneration
  4. Augmentation with an Ovine Forestomach Matrix Scaffold Improves Histological Outcomes of Rotator Cuff Repair in a Rat Model
  5. The Rates of Wear of X3 Highly Cross-linked Polyethylene at Five Years when Coupled with a 36 mm Diameter Ceramic Femoral Head in Young Patients
  6. The Importance of Connexin Hemichannels during Chondroprogenitor Cell Differentiation in Hydrogel versus Microtissue Culture Models
  7. Squeaking in Ceramic-on-ceramic Hips: No Evidence of Contribution from the Trunnion Morse Taper
  8. Disuse Osteoporosis: A Better Understanding of Pathophysiology May Lead to Potential Therapies
  9. Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors Regulate OPG through Inhibition of PDGFRbeta
  10. New Visible Light Photo-initiating System for Improved Print Fidelity in Gelatine Based Bio-inks
  11. Return to Work for Injured Survivors of the Christchurch Earthquake: Influences in the First Two Years
  12. Modular Tissue Assembly Strategies for Biofabrication of Engineered Cartilage
  13. Signal Processing and Event Detection of Hip Implant Acoustic Emissions
  14. Synthesis and in vitro Bone Cell Activity of Analogues of the Cyclohexapeptide Dianthin G
  15. Short Anabolic Peptides for Bone Growth
  16. Structure-mechanical Property Correlations of Hydrogel Forming β-sheet Peptides
  17. Applying Physiologically Relevant Strains to Tenocytes in an In-vitro cell Device Induces In-vivo like Behaviours
  18. Structure Activity Relationship Study on the Peptide Hormone Preptin, a Novel Bone-anabolic Agent for the Treatment of Osteoporosis
  19. Reduced Bone Density and Cortical Bone Indices in Female Adiponectin-Knockout Mice
  20. The Activity of Adiponectin in Bone
  21. Multifunctional Thermoresponsive Designer Peptide Hydrogels
  22. Three-dimensional Assembly of Tissue-engineered Cartilage Constructs Results in Cartilaginous Tissue Formation without Retainment of Zonal Characteristics
  23. Additive Manufacturing of a Photo-Cross-Linkable Polymer via Direct Melt Electro-spinning Writing For Producing High Strength Structures
  24. Biofabrication: Reappraising the Definition in an Evolving Field
  25. Stem Cells for Bone Regeneration: Role of Trophic Factors