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Christine Le Maitre

Prof Christine L Le Maitre BSc, PhD, FHEA

Professor of Cell Biology and Tissue Regeneration

Summary

Prof Le Maitre completed her BSc (Hons) in Pharmacology with industrial experience from Manchester University in 2000, and her PhD also from Manchester University in 2003. Following a number of years as a postdoctoral scientist, Prof Le Maitre was appointed as a Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University in 2008. She was promoted to Reader in 2014. Prof Le Maitre is an internationally renowned researcher investigating musculoskeletal disorders and novel therapies. She also researches natural agents as potential therapeutics for Leukaemia.

  • About

    Following the award of a 1st class BSc(Hons) degree in Pharmacology with industrial experience from Manchester University in 2000, Prof Le Maitre went on to study the role of IL-1 in the pathogenesis of intervertebral disc degeneration for her PhD at Manchester University which she was awarded in 2003. She worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the same laboratory at Manchester for a further 5 years on a number of projects investigating the pathogenesis of intervertebral disc degeneration. In 2008 she moved to Sheffield Hallam University as a Senior Lecturer in molecular and cell biology. She has taught cell biology, biology of diseases, haematology, research skills, laboratory techniques and has lead a number of modules and was the course leader for the masters in biomedical sciences and biomedical laboratory sciences.

    She is currently the module leader for biology of disease. Following promotion to Reader in 2014 based on her research and teaching experience she became the postgraduate research tutor for the BMRC. In 2017 she was awarded a personal chair and is now Professor of Cell Biology and Tissue Regeneration. Her research is focused on key areas including the pathogenesis and future therapies for musculoskeletal diseases and the  use of nutraceuticals in the development of novel therapies for leukaemia.

  • Teaching

    MSc Biosciences Programme and BSc Biosciences Programme

    BSc Biomedical Sciences, BSc Biochemistry, BSc Human Biology, BSc Biology, BSc Forensic Science, BSc Chemistry, various MSc Project Courses

  • Research

    Intervertebral disc degeneration

    Low back pain is a major problem to the community affecting approximately 80 per cent of the population sometimes in their lives. Intervertebral disc degeneration has been implicated in approximately 40 per cent of cases of low back pain and thus is a promising therapeutic target. However, the current therapies are purely symptomatic or involve surgery which does not address the initial causes of low back pain. I am interested in improving the understanding of the pathogenesis of intervertebral disc degeneration with the aim to develop new therapeutic approaches targeted at the abnormal cell biology which results in intervertebral disc degeneration. My research to date has focused on investigating the involvement of a number of proteases (MMPs and ADAMTS), cytokines (IL-1β and TNF α) and the role of cellular senescence, aquaporins and nerve and blood vessel ingrowth in the pathogenesis of disc degeneration, with the aim to develop new therapeutic strategies (including gene therapy and smart biomaterials) to inhibit the processes involved in disc degeneration. This work is particularly focused on the inhibition of the actions of the inflammatory cytokine IL-1, which my previous work has shown is a key target for the prevention of disc degeneration. In addition I am interested in the development of tissue regeneration strategies involving the use of Mesenchymal stem cells to replace the dysfunctional disc cells, and novel tissue engineering approaches.

    Smart Biomaterials for Regenerative medicine

    In collaboration with Prof Sammon in MERI we are investigating novel hydrogel systems which can be used as delivery systems for inhibitors of degeneration and stem cells for regenerative capabilities. We are investigating hydrogel systems to promote the regeneration of a number of musculoskeletal tissues including intervertebral disc, bone and cartilage.

    Development of 3D culture systems for in vitro testing to reduce animal testing

    With a long-standing research interest in the us of 3D culture systems to investigate biological effects mimicking in vivo environments within musculoskeletal tissues, research is now investigating development of 3D models for liver and gastrointestinal tissues to mimic in vivo phenotypes which can be used in the future to perform drug testing and other pharmaceutical assessments normally performed in vivo, thus reducing the number of animals needed for development of new therapies.

    Nutraceuticals in the prevention and treatment of cancer

    A further research interest is the biological effects on cancer and non-tumour cells of a number of nutraceutical compounds which have been suggested as possible therapeutic alternatives for cancer prevention and treatment. I am investigating the effects of these compounds on the induction of apoptosis/necrosis, reduced cell replication and influences on cytokine production and signalling pathways involved in the pathogenesis of cancers. My particular area of interest is leukaemias although I am also interested in a number of cancer types and locations, and the differences between the efficacy of the nutraceuticals at each site.

    National

    Professor Paul Hatton, School of Dentistry, University of Sheffield
    Professor Ian Brook, School of Dentistry, University of Sheffield
    Professor Paula Farthing, School of Dentistry, University of Sheffield
    Dr Christine Freeman, School of Dentistry, University of Sheffield
    Dr Alieen Crawford, School of Dentistry, University of Sheffield
    Dr Martin Nicklin, School of Infection and Immunity, University of Sheffield
    Dr David Buttle, School of Infection and immunity, University of Sheffield
    Dr Glen Cooper, School of Engineering, Manchester Metropolitan University
    Professor Neil Reeves, School of Healthcare Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University
    Professor Judith Hoyland, School of Medicine, University of Manchester
    Professor Mike Adams, School of Veterinary Sciences, Bristol University
    Dr John Tarlton, School of Veterinary Sciences, Bristol University
    Dr Patricia Dolan, School of Veterinary Sciences, Bristol University

    Current International Collaborators

    Professor Makrand Risbud, Penn University, Philadelphia, USA
    Professor Fackson Mwale, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
    Professor Theo Smit, VU Medical Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Dr Laura Creemer, Utrecht, Netherlands
    Dr Marianna Tryfonidou, Utrecht, Netherlands

  • Publications

  • Other activities

    External PhD examiner for various institutions
    Society for Biohydrogels: Executive Officer: Secretary 2015-present
    ORS Spine Section Officer: Secretary: 2015-present
    DISCs Trustee: 2014-present
    AO Spine UK Delegate: 2009-present
    The Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland: Trustee and Director 2013-present
    Grant reviewer for NHSg Endowment Grants: 2009/2010
    Grant reviewer for Swiss National Science Foundation, BBSRC: 2011-2013
    Grant reviewer for Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC): 2012
    Reviewer for journals: Arthritis Research and Therapy, Acta Biomaterialia, Histology and Histopathology, Biotechnique and Histochemistry, Open Access Surgery, Disease Models and Mechanisms, Stem Cells and Development, Journal of Orthopedic Research, Nutrition and Cancer: 2008-

  • Postgraduate supervision

    Regulating Differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells in hydrogels. Director of Studies: CL Le Maitre, Supervisor: C Sammon. March 2014-Febuary 2017.
    Aqaporins in Disease: Director of studies: CL Le Maitre & M Conner. March 2015-Febuary 2018.
    3D tumour spheroids. Director of Studies: N Cross, Supervisors: M Clench, D Smith, CL Le Maitre, Advisor: C Sammon. September 2014 – August 2017.
    3D culture models for gastrointestinal tissues. Director of studies: C Le Maitre, Supervisors: N Jordan-Mahy, C Sammon. September 2014 – August 2017.
    Injectable hydrogels for dental repair. Director of studies: C Sammon, Supervisor: C Le Maitre. September 2014 – August 2017.

    The effects of cannabinoids on chondrocyte metabolism: Supervisors: Director of studies: Bunning RAD, Supervisors: Le Maitre CL, Crawford A. Advisor M Wilkinson: October 2010-Feburary 2014.
    Pomegranate Juice and its potential for Treatment of Leukaemia. Director of studies: Le Maitre CL. Supervisors: Jordan Mahy NJ, Clench MR. March 2009-October 2013.
    PhD Studentship: Nutraceutical polyacetylenes and leukaemia. Director of studies: Le Maitre CL, Supervisor: Clench MR. March 2009-July 2013.
    Role of Cytokines and Chemokines in the Pathogenesis of Low Back Pain. Director of studies: Le Maitre CL, Supervisors: Cross A, Bunning RAD, Advisor: Haddock G. October 2009- January 2013.
    Examination of the effect of polyphenols isolated from Rheum Spp. on haematological malignancies Director of Studies: Jordan-Mahy N, Supervisors: Cross N, Haywood Small S, McDougall G. Advisor Le Maitre CL. October 2010-September 2014.
    Regulation of Discogenic Pain by Cytokines and Chemokines within the degenerate disc. Director of Studies: CL Le Maitre, Supervisors A Cross, N Chiverton. September 2012-August 2015.
    MMU PhD studentship: Mechanical analysis of Low Back Pain & Novel Stem Cell Treatment. Dirrector of Studies: G Cooper (MMU), Supervisors: N Reeves (MMU), C Le Maitre (SHU). September 2012-August 2015.

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