Myles joined the group as a post-graduate researcher in September 2012 after receiving his Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) from the National University of Ireland, Galway. His Phd project focuses on the effects of extracellular mechanics on osteocyte differentiation in vitro. He is designing a novel tissue engineering bioreactor that can generate both cellular level stresses and mechanical stimulation regimes that are comparable to those experienced in vivo.
Osteocyte cells play a vital role in maintaining bone health by monitoring physical cues arising during load-bearing activity. Traditional bone tissue engineering (TE) approaches involve seeding bone cells onto 3D scaffolds of different pore size and stiffness. However, previous studies have not reported significant osteocyte differentiation within bone TE constructs. Recently it has been demonstrated that extracellular matrix (ECM) stiffness and cell density can regulate osteoblast differentiation in two dimensional (2D) environments. However, in vivo osteocytes reside in a three dimensional (3D) network within the ECM and it is not yet known whether osteoblast-osteocyte differentiation within a 3D matrix can be induced by the control of matrix stiffness and intercellular separation. A TE strategy that recreates the physical nature of the ECM and determines the optimal cell separation distance within this environment might provide an effective approach to develop bone constructs with an osteocyte network in place. In addition, constructs through bioreactor culture systems.