What is the project about?
RAFT is working on a novel product to provide mastectomy patients with a new option for their breast reconstruction, which will not involve the implantation of synthetic material and associated dis-benefits.
The product in development is 3D ‘scaffold’, built from natural proteins found in breast tissue. It will be used in conjunction with fat supplemented with stem cells to help rebuild the breast, and ensure that the fat will stay within the breast reconstruction site rather than dissipating throughout the body. As the breast tissue grows, the implant will be absorbed, leaving behind a natural breast, made with the patient’s own body tissue.
What benefits will the project bring to patients?
Current guidelines recommend that women should be offered the option of breast reconstruction after mastectomy. However, artificial implants suffer from the possibility of rejection, a less than natural feel and the need for replacement in the future; while the tissue transfers techniques currently available often experience issues with fat re-absorption.
Fewer than half the women in the UK who have a mastectomy choose to have breast reconstruction. These patients have suffered the trauma of cancer and are understandably unwilling to undergo further surgery with an uncertain outcome. Once proven, RAFT’s solution will allow for a natural feeling outcome, with a quicker, less painful recovery time,and a far more cost-effective procedure.
Where is this project heading?
An initial 18 prototypes (with different combinations of natural proteins found in breast tissue) were subjected to rigorous testing, with a final prototype to be chosen for scaling up into an implant that will be tested in a pre-clinical model (subject to funding). RAFT researcher Dr Prasad Sawadkar (pictured below) is working closely with clinicians to develop an implant that not only improves the lives of patients, but also, more importantly, caters to the surgeons’ needs.