Helen Berry

Job Title: UAF in Cardiovascular Regenerative Therapies & Devices

I joined the University of Leeds as the University Academic Fellow in Cardiovascular Regenerative Therapies & Devices in July 2015, returning to academia after 8 years within R&D at the University of Leeds spin-out company Tissue Regenix.

Following a PhD in Immunology, investigating the cell mediated immune response to heat shock proteins in inflammatory acne vulgaris that led to the discovery that regulatory T-cells may have a role to play in resolution of the disease; I undertook postdoctoral research on “Tissue Engineering a Living Heart Valve”, which aimed to develop a regenerative heart valve substitute.  The strategy was to develop a process for decellularisation of porcine heart valves and establish methodologies for recellularisation of the acellular scaffold.  The regenerative potential of these functional acellular scaffolds was demonstrated in vivo and insight was gained on the role of macrophages in the regenerative process.

This research led to the spin-out of Tissue Regenix, established in 2006 to promote commercialisation of the decellularisation technology. Following the move into industry, I was engaged in collaborative research projects, which generated new acellular scaffolds and insight into cell signalling mechanisms occurring at the acellular scaffold-tissue interface, in parallel to overseeing product development of the company’s first devices through to launch in Europe and the USA.

Although, clinical use has been achieved for these acellular technologies; questions remain on the key drivers behind successful regeneration. My research focus is therefore on elucidating the mechanisms of immunomodulation and tissue regeneration in acellular scaffolds for cardiovascular repair and replacement, in conjunction with investigating translational issues such as bioprocessing and sterilisation methods.  Clinical success can be built upon by defining the mechanisms of action, and functional tolerances for natural matrix modification, to provide insight for new scaffold development; whilst targeted bioprocessing methods and integrated sterilisation strategies will increase the opportunity for the applied research to be translated into clinical practice.