IMPRESS Fellowship Project

Co-electrospun Membrane for Pelvic Floor Repair

  • Principal Investigator

    University of Leeds

  • Co-Investigators

    Dr. Pete Culmer, School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds

    Dr Richard Day, University College London

    Dr Tausif Muhammad, School of Design, University of Leeds

    Prof. Stephen Russell, School of Design, University of Leeds


This research project was undertaken as part of the IMPRESS Research Fellowship position, held by Dr Elena Mancuso until January 2018. It was developed through close collaboration with textiles experts at Leeds University and aims to design and construct a three dimensional (3D) membrane, via a needleless electrospinning technique, as a potential platform for the repair and regeneration of the human pelvic floor.

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a common chronic disorder, occurring in up to 50% of women above the age of 50. Synthetic and natural materials are currently used for the treatment and repair of POP. However, there are still unmet clinical needs in terms of biocompatibility, mechanical properties, failure, infections and high recurrence risks. Specifically, synthetic polymers are prone to erosion and infection, while natural polymers have a rapid degradation rate with weak mechanical properties, thus their clinical application is limited.

Video of the electro-spinning process

To address the current challenges,  this work seeks to develop a biodegradable membrane that by mimicking the three-dimensional architecture of the pelvic floor, can allow a better biomechanical integration into the host tissue and then its repair.

Among the different technologies applied for the production of 3D meshes, electrospinning is the most commonly used, being simple, cost-effective and versatile. Furthermore, the possibility to tailor the material chemistry, surface functionality and degradation rate together with the opportunity to load active agents make electrospun scaffolds an appealing tissue engineering-based approach for Pelvic Organ Prolapse.

The project aims to develop a smart delivery system based on technical textile manufacture to:

1. support the treatment of incontinence

2. exert an antibacterial action in site,by delivering a naturally-derived medical grade honey. Although honey has been in use for treating wounds and burns for thousands of years relatively few honey-based medical products exist on the market

3. preserve its interface without affecting the physico-chemical properties of the bulk material.

Incontinence Management & PRevention through Engineering and ScienceS