background image
Technology developed by an RCSI research team
represents the first step towards obtaining more complex
sequential delivery systems that can be designed by
attaching liposomes responding to different stimuli to the
surface of collagen-based scaffolds.
What it means for human health:
After an injury such as a fracture, natural bone healing
involves the interplay of a cascade of many different proteins
that are delivered to the area by the organism following a
specific spatiotemporal pattern. The scientific community
has focused on the development of biomaterials which,
when implanted, mimic this delivery cascade, with the aim of
enhancing bone healing.
This research evaluated the possibility of developing an on-
demand drug delivery system from a resorbable collagen-
hydroxyapatite porous scaffold, which the researchers had
previously optimised for bone tissue regeneration. A pro-
osteogenic peptide was encapsulated into thermosensitive
liposomes, which were then attached to the surface of the
The research team successfully demonstrated that the peptide
could be delivered from the scaffolds/liposomes constructs
after a short thermal pulse, and that this delivery elicited a
pro-regenerative effect in vitro.By tuning the composition of
the collagen-based scaffold and the drug delivered, these
devices could be optimised for enhancing the healing of a
myriad of different organs such as cartilage, skin or cornea.
The paper: Thermally triggered release of a pro-osteogenic
peptide from a functionalized collagen-based scaffold
using thermosensitive liposomes. Journal of Controlled
Release, 2014 August 10;187:158-66. The authors: López-
Noriega A, Ruiz-Hernández E, Quinlan E, Storm G, Hennink
WE, O'Brien FJ.
Researchers from RCSI and Beaumont Hospital made
an important breakthrough in the understanding and
treatment of hereditary emphysema.
What it means for human health:
The exciting findings show that the protein alpha-1
antitrypsin (AAT) plays an important role in controlling
inflammation from white blood cells and is important for
good health. AAT is a protein produced by the liver which,
when released into the bloodstream travels to the lungs to
protect the lung tissue from disease.
Patients deficient in AAT suffer from alpha-1 antitrypsin
Deficiency (alpha-1); a hereditary disorder that leads to
severe emphysema. Emphysema is caused by inflammation
of the alveoli, the sponge-like tissues that take oxygen into
the lungs. The disease causes shortness of breath in its
mildest form and in its severest form, patients must use an
oxygen mask and may need a lung transplant.
The study revealed the mechanisms by which a lack of
alpha-1 causes an increase in the release of proteins
from white blood cells into the blood stream. This leads
to an autoimmune process in the body that mistakenly
recognises these proteins as foreign and activates its own
white blood cells to produce harmful oxidants.
The research also revealed how a treatment known as
augmentation therapy, where alpha-1 protein purified
from blood is given intravenously, leads to a decrease
in the abnormal protein release thereby alleviating the
disease associated autoimmunity. This research gives new
hope for a better quality of life for sufferers of this chronic

The paper: The circulating proteinase inhibitor -1
antitrypsin regulates neutrophil degranulation and
autoimmunity. Science Translational Medicine,2014 January,
6:217ra1. The authors: Bergin DA, Reeves EP, Hurley K,
Wolfe R, Jameel R, Fitzgerald S, McElvaney, NG.
Making life better, improving human health
In the twelve months to June 2014, RCSI achieved in excess of 35.7m in research
funding and published 260 Pubmed indexed articles. Here we outline some examples
of notable recent RCSI research that aims to improve human health
At the launch of the College's new research strategy
"Improving Human Health ­ RCSI's Strategy for Excellence
in Translational Research 2014-2020" were: Professor Ray
Stallings, Director of Research, RCSI, and Minister Damien
English T.D., Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation.