OncoEng: What We Do

Meet OncoEng

Three Universities in the UK, University of Leeds, Imperial College and University College London, have come together to deliver OncoEng and provide PhD and PDRA training

View the leading team

OncoEng centres on a transformational and systems engineering approach Metastatic Bone Disease (MBD) in the spine using a framework combining advanced image-based modelling and cutting edge manufacturing to enable an optimised, metamaterial-based minimally invasive implant (MII). Long-term patient impact will be enabled by partnership with the industry and healthcare sectors, as well as other globally leading academic units.

Researchers will develop new approaches to patient imaging and computer modelling, enabling them to track tumour development in the spine over time and how it might be weakening individual vertebrae.

The information would be compared with the loading on the spine, enabling clinicians to predict which of the vertebrae is at risk of fracturing.

Finally a new medical device will be developed to enable treatment of vertebrae at a high-risk of collapse to be supported by an implant inserted into the spine using minimally invasive techniques.

A minimally invasive device (figure below) will be optimally designed using a multiscale approach; the concept will be tested both computationally and experimentally going beyond standard in vitro test methods. This will include an initial, novel in silico trials framework and adverse scenarios which are more likely to induce fracture.

A new type of minimally invasive vertebrae implant


A minimally invasive device (figure right) will be optimally designed using a multiscale approach; the concept will be tested both computationally and experimentally going beyond standard in vitro test methods.

This will include an initial, novel in silico trials framework and adverse scenarios which are more likely to induce fracture.

Minimally invasive implant combining unique metamaterials and 3D printing

“ This project allows us to expand our expertise in the analysis, optimisation and 3D printing of structural metamaterials. By working as part of the multidisciplinary team we aim to apply the new approaches and knowledge to improve the quality of life of late-stage cancer suffers.  

We will also be able to apply some of these new approaches back into the aerospace and mechanical engineering sectors where advanced meta-materials have a wide range of potential applications.”


Training Lead and Co-investigator of the OncoEng collaboration at Imperial College

The 6 scientific objectives that provide an integrated approach to realising the overall aims and vision of OncoEng are:

  1. Development and assessment of a DLP technology capable of meeting the build and material requirements of the minimally invasive implant.
  2. Ascertainment of the load/motion spectrum of index vertebrae for activities of daily living.
  3. Prediction of the evolution of metastatic bone disease within the vertebrae.
  4. Minimally invase implant development, optimisation and testing centred on metamaterials.
  5. Development and validation of a model to predict vertebrae fracture risk in metastatic bone disease.
  6. Advanced in vitro/ex vivo testing of the implant device-vertebrae construct including metastic bone disease-vertebrae tissues.

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