GRANTS. As a co-applicant in a European research consortium, Stina Simonsson is receiving more than SEK 5 million for her research. She is one of 10 research partners in this major project, which aims to find new ways to treat knee injuries with the help of new, advanced technologies.
The large European Union project is called RESTORE. The Swedish part of the project will receive more than SEK 5.5 million from EU members during the 3.5 years it is expected to continue. The overall project is coordinated by a research team in Porto, Portugal. Participating researchers come from Finland, Germany, Iceland, Spain, Norway, Italy and Sweden.
Stina Simonsson, an associate professor of cell biology at the University of Gothenburg, heads the Swedish team.
“Having been invited to deliver a lecture in Lisbon, Portugal, I was then asked if I wanted to collaborate,” says Simonsson, who is an expert in 3D bioprinting of cartilage tissue with stem cells.
“Among other things, we work with mini model systems, trying to make knees in test tubes that we can then use to screen for various substances, such as pharmaceuticals, and also to study disease mechanisms.”
Printed stem cells
Last year Stina Simonsson’s team made a breakthrough when they managed to create cartilage tissue by printing stem cells with a 3D printer. Not only did the stem cells survive being printed that way; they also multiplied and differentiated into cartilage in the printed structure. The research was carried out in collaboration with colleagues at Chalmers University of Technology and orthopedic researchers at Kungsbacka Hospital.
“In the not too distant future, we should be able to use a 3D printer to produce cartilage based on an individual’s own reverse stem cells to repair cartilage damage or to treat osteoarthritis, which causes cartilage in joints to degenerate and break down,” Simonsson believes.
The diseases of the knee for which Simonsson and the European consortium aim to find new treatments are very common. One out of four Swedes over age 45 has some degree of osteoarthritis.
TEXT: ELIN LINDSTRÖM CLAESSEN
PORTRAIT PHOTO: MALIN ARNESSON