Scientists from 26 leading universities around the world have come together to pioneer a new standard of testing biological materials such as skin, arteries and bone: from brain tissue to blood vessels. The consortium called C4Bio, aims to achieve consensus on the testing protocols for material characterisation of biological tissue, to disseminate the results to the regulatory bodies and ultimately lead to the development of improved stents, catheters and novel medical devices.

Bernal Institute Biomaterials researchers led by Dr John Mulvihill are one of the groups selected to join this international initiative, along with other experts in this field from 26 universities which include: University of California, University of South Africa, and Fudan University, China. The consortium will publish a white paper on biological tissue characterisation which will break down barriers that hinder Computer based modelling (also known as in-silico methodologies).

Computer models and simulations are important tools to build medical devices and therapies, however, accurate input data on the strength and stiffness of biological tissues is required to build reliable models. While there are many scientific studies to characterise and examine the strength and stiffness of biological tissues there is high variability in the reported parameters for how ‘stiff’ these tissues are.

Dr Mulvihill’s work is focused on understanding traumatic brain injury TBI; he characterises the tissues of the brain that can aid computer based modelling to mimic concussive impacts and to view how a TBI can instantaneously deform our brains and lead to knock-on effects. Sixty-nine million individuals are estimated to suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI) from all causes each year. Commenting on the C4Bio initiative Dr Mulvihill said “Standardising these test methods will lead to improved models to help us design and develop medical devices from biodegradable stents in our arteries to enhanced helmet design to improved robotic-led surgical procedures.

C4Bio will drive forward in-silico medicine research by contributing to a key breakthrough in one of the most significant barriers to ubiquitous adoption of computational biological models.

The Bernal Institute C4Bio partners are: Professor Michael Walsh, Dr David Newport, Dr John Mulvihill and Post Doctoral Researcher Dr Darragh Walsh.

Further information is available on the C4Bio website