A ROUNDABOUT JOURNEY ACROSS THREE CONTINENTS BROUGHT PROFESSOR RANDY BINDRA FROM HIS CHILDHOOD HOME IN INDIA TO THE GOLD COAST HEALTH AND KNOWLEDGE PRECINCT (GCHKP) WHERE HE INNOVATES IN ORTHOPAEDIC SURGERY.
The softly-spoken Sikh did his medical training in India’s largest city, Mumbai, before doing further specialist studies in the UK and the US, then leaving Chicago for the sunny shores of Australia’s Gold Coast in 2014.
With an Australian wife and the offer of work as a leading hand and wrist surgeon at the then brand new Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH), along with a Professorship at Griffith University, the appeal was obvious.
Since arriving, Professor Bindra has found ready research partners within Griffith’s health and engineering faculties, as well as a growing appetite for surgical training from Indian specialists keen to learn from his extensive experience in trauma, and his cutting-edge research to regrow nerves and ligament tissue.
Now it is coming together in unique project with his Griffith University colleague Professor David Lloyd and team that offers the promise of not only repairing the most common wrist injury in young, active people, but providing a platform technology that will transform how sports injuries are treated.
The project, funded by an almost $900,000 BioMedTech Horizons program grant from the Australian Government, is using groundbreaking bioengineering and 3D printing technology to create hope for sufferers of Scapholunate Interosseous Ligament (SLIL) injury.
SLIL injuries cause dislocation of scaphoid and lunate bones and can be career-ending for an athlete and result in long-term disability for others, with current treatments that improvise to use tendon in place of ligament having a poor prognosis. Long-term pain, limitation of movement and arthritis are often the eventual outcome.
“What we are trying to create is a ligament scaffold that is customised to the patient and is seeded with cells, so its a live ligament that is ready to grow and heal,” explains Professor Bindra.
“If we can perfect the science and make this a reliable platform starting off in the wrist, we could use it anywhere else where there’s a ligament injury.
We don’t even fully realise the potential yet, so its very exciting to be at the starting curve of something that could be dramatic in terms of sports injuries.”
Having already been trialled in successful animal studies, Professor Bindra, who was named 2016 Queensland Clinical Educator, says he expects the research to expand into human clinical trials within the next two to three years.
The project draws on the expertise of industry partner Orthocell, a successful Australian regenerative medicine company who are responsible for the cell biology work, and also involves collaboration with the Universities of Queensland and Western Australia, however the core multi-disciplinary team benefits from co-location within the GCHKP.
“The great thing about the Gold Coast and this health and knowledge precinct is the proximity of all the different teams. So you’ve got a hosptial and a medical school, we have access to cadavers, access to fantastic mechanical labs, we have ADaPT where we can print and create scaffolds and prototypes and we’ve got a lot of smart people at Griffith university,” Professor Bindra says.
“So we’ve got this combination of everything in one place which I’m not sure is replicated anywhere else.”