We have a new university in our town but many townspeople know little about
what goes on there. It was therefore especially useful on 12 December to
hear Professor Brendon Noble's talk about the pioneering research he is
heading with a team of bio-technologists, chemists, mathematicians and
engineers working in the James Hehir Building on Orwell Quay.
The research is into ways of using stem-cell derived material to treat
cartilage damage and joint disease. Unlike invertebrates such as worms,
which can be cut up into pieces and still regenerate, mammals have limited
capacity for regeneration - blood, skin, liver, etc can re-grow but not
cartilage. Consequently we humans losing our shock-absorbers can end up with
osteo-arthritis, which claims a huge number of victims. But in these still
early stages of research there are no trials yet on arthritis sufferers.
This research, Professor Noble said, is well ahead of competitors. Hitherto
it has been in collaboration with a major Californian partner, although that
partner now needs replacing by other sources of funding (there is no direct
Government funding). The local connections are important. UCS works closely
with Ipswich Hospital Orthopaedic Department; Professor Noble also teaches
an M.Sc course, so successful students could become a valuable "Suffolk
export"; and as the research spreads out it will generate a variety of job
situations in this "emerging industry".
The Ipswich Society is, of course, deeply interested in the heritage of our
town, and in its present achievements and problems, but also in its future:
Professor Noble's talk was an encouraging outline of a very promising
Cover, issue 191