Mar 10 2020 Posted: 09:57 GMT

CÚRAM and RCSI PhD student Domhnall Kelly has recently been awarded the UK and Ireland Controlled Release Society Travel Award to attend and present his research at the upcoming Controlled Release Society (CRS) Annual Meeting in Las Vegas this summer. The CRS is the home for experts dedicated to the delivery of actives and an international hub for delivery science and technology.

On receiving the award, Domhnall said: “The annual Controlled Release Society and Exposition (CRS) is the leading conference within my field of research. It goes without saying that the opportunity to participate in this meeting will be immensely beneficial with regards to allowing me to disseminate my research to, and network with, some of the leading researchers, clinicians and industry representatives within in the fields of drug delivery and regenerative medicine.”

Domhnall is a member of the Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), which focuses on the development and functionalization of biomaterial scaffolds for a number of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering applications. Domhnall’s PhD research, which is supervised by CÚRAM investigators Prof. Fergal O’Brien (RCSI) and Prof. Caitriona O’Driscoll (UCC), specifically focuses on the use of these platforms in preventing the progression of osteoarthritis following damage or injury to cartilage tissue in the joints.

Prof. Fergal O’Brien, Head of the Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) and Director of Research & Innovation in RCSI said ‘We are very grateful to the support to the UK and Ireland Controlled Release Society for this travel award which will provide an outstanding early career researcher with the opportunity to present his work at this leading global meeting’.

Speaking about the award, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM, said, said: “This award indicates the excellence of the work being done by the TERG group and presents an important opportunity to share our expertise with a global audience. I congratulate Domhnall on the achievement and the positive impact it will no doubt have on his research career.

Osteoarthritis (OA) affects approximately 300 million people worldwide making it the leading degenerative joint disease worldwide. To date there are no pharmacological or surgical options that can completely restore damaged cartilage to its original structure and/or function. OA is caused by damage to the articular cartilage in the joint due to either trauma, aging or disease. The poor innate healing capacity of cartilage tissue results in this damage slowly progressing over time leading to osteoarthritis, which is why aging is a major contributor, however, OA can occur in adults of any age. As a result, almost all of us will develop OA in some of our joints, as we get older.

Domhnall explains: “I focus on combining non-viral gene therapy with these naturally derived biomaterials to create an advanced drug delivery system that is capable of overcoming the negative effects of the inflammatory cascade that often leads to the joint wide propagation of osteoarthritis.”

The CRS Annual Meeting will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada in July 2020. Domhnall will present his research at the 4 day event.

“There are few opportunities in life to get to listen and learn from a Nobel Prize Winner. CRS is one of those special places that provides such inspiring events. As a graduate of biochemistry, the opportunity to attend a talk by Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi (a fellow molecular biologist) will no doubt be right up there as one of the highlights of my research career to date.”

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