Farming, Research and Innovation

At its Industry Day to celebrate its first year in operation, AMBER
unveils new technology that helped an injured Meath racehorse Annagh
Haven return to its winning ways

AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded materials science
centre, hosted in Trinity College Dublin, unveiled a new bone repair
technology on January 20th last, which has led to an injured racehorse
Meath from the stables of Larry Mulvaney, Oristown, Kells returning to
its winning ways after a successful jaw reconstruction.  The
announcement, which received national publicity, was made at AMBER’s
Industry Day, held to mark its first anniversary, which was officially
opened by local Meath West TD and Minister for Skills, Research and
Innovation Damien English, and which brought together a number of
AMBER’s industry partners.

The patented bone repair technology was developed by a team of AMBER
Researchers within the Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) in the
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) led by Professor Fergal
O’Brien, Deputy Director of AMBER. It consists of collagen and
hydroxyapatite, components native to bone, formed into a 3D porous
‘scaffold’ which acts as a bone graft substitute.  Bone cells and
blood vessels ‘cling’ to the scaffold, allowing for new tissue

This bone repair technology (known as HydroxyColl) will be brought to
market by RCSI spin out company, SurgaColl Technologies.  Regulatory
approval for human use is forecast in the coming months and
implantation in patients suffering from large bone defects planned
this year.

Speaking at the event, Damien English, local Meath West TD and
Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation said “It has been a very
successful first year for AMBER, this exciting technology is another
example that shows that Irish research is at the leading edge of
material science worldwide.  Material science underpins a wide range
of market opportunities that have the greatest potential to deliver
economic return through enterprise development and employment growth
in Ireland. I congratulate Professor O’Brien, his team and
collaborators at AMBER for this breakthrough solution that could have
real application in the veterinary sector and which could ultimately
improve the lives of thousands of people also.”

The first clinical use of the HydroxyColl was on a 2 year old
thoroughbred filly Annagh Haven that had a large swelling in her jaw
caused by a complex aneurysmal cyst.  As a result of the cyst, the
bone in the filly’s jaw was at risk of fracture and she was unable to
chew adequately. The outcome is generally poor for aneurysmal cysts
and euthanasia of the animal often necessary.

The procedure was carried out by Dr. Florent David at University
College Dublin’s Veterinary Hospital who removed the cyst and
implanted sheets of the scaffold. The procedure has enabled repair of
the bone tissue followed by restoration of normal bone shape and
function.  Since surgery, the horse, Annagh Haven, has returned to
racing and has won or been placed in 6 of her races to date.