A DOG has had its leg saved from amputation through an innovative new bone restoration project in Glasgow supported by football legend Sir Bobby Charlton.

Eva, a two-year-old Munsterlander underwent treatment as part of the University of Glasgow research into producing synthetically grown “off the shelf” bone replacements which will be used to treat civilian land mine blast survivors.

The state-of-the-art care was given at the university's Small Animal Hospital after Eva was hit by a car in the summer of last year, resulting in a complicated fracture in her foreleg femur.

But thanks to a £2.8 million funding deal secured last year with the Find A Better Way charity, established by football legend Sir Bobby Charlton, the Glasgow project has been moving towards aiding victims around the world in their recovery - and has thrown a Eva the chance of a normal life.

Fiona Kirkland, Eva’s Glasgow owner, commented: “We are absolutely thrilled with Eva’s recovery. When we heard about an experimental treatment that might help her, we had no idea it was connected to such an important project.

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"It is amazing to think that the treatment used to heal Eva’s leg will help researchers one day repair the bones of landmine blast survivors. I’m very grateful to everyone."

Sir Bobby Charlton commented: “When I signed the funding agreement for this project just six months ago I was not expecting there to be any results from this technology for years. Eva is a beautiful dog and I’m delighted she will now have a normal life... I’m even more thrilled to think about what promise this technique holds for landmine blast survivors, and the rest of humanity, in the future.”

Whereas earlier methods of trauma surgery relied on amputating victims, advances in regenerative medicine now allow surgeons to retain and reconstruct as much of the limb as possible.

The ultimate vision is ‘off the shelf’ bone that can be delivered anywhere in the world.

As part of the regenerative medicine project, university researchers use a 3D printer to create bone scaffolds, which are then coated with intricate layers of stem cells and a growth factor known as BMP-2.

The challenge was to deliver BMP-2 in a way that does not cause unwanted side-effects. Liquid BMP-2 tends to seep away from any application and results in unwanted bone growth around the body.

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The breakthrough was the discovery of previously unknown qualities of an extremely common, everyday polymer called poly(ethyl acrylate) or PEA, that is used in everything from nail varnish to house paint. By adding BMP-2 as a layer on top of PEA, BMP-2 can be delivered in a much smaller, ultra-efficient, dose that does not spread around the body.

The components are placed in a Nanokick, a specialized machine which rapidly shakes the scaffold to further stimulate the interaction between the stem cells and the growth factor, encouraging the bone tissue to grow at a vastly accelerated rate.

Once completed, it is said to take only take 3 or 4 days to produce bone pieces customised for individual patients’ needs. The bone tissue would continue to grow once implanted in the patient’s body, eventually replacing the scaffold, which then dissolves, leaving the patient only with new bone.

Professor Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez one of the leaders of the university team commented: “This is an exciting development. During research and development, the use of PEA and BMP-2 to grow new bone tissue has looked very promising, but I was not expecting the treatment to be used to help a patient for several more years.

"We are delighted to have had the chance to help save Eva’s leg from amputation. If I’m honest, we were not at all sure the treatment would work in such a complex infected fracture. It’s been a very rewarding experience for everyone involved.”

Find A Better Way was started in 2011 by footballer Sir Bobby Charlton after visiting Cambodia, where landmines continue to threaten the population after decades of war.

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The charity's funding is for five years and began this year. By this point it is expected an initial human trial will be completed and the technology will be ready for wider clinical testing.

Every year, an estimated 4,300 people around the world are injured or killed by landmine blasts, with that number last year being the highest it’s been in a decade.

Children are particularly vulnerable to landmine blasts. In 2015, there were 1,072 recorded child casualties from mines or other explosive devices, according to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor.   The figure included 347 deaths and 725 injuries. However, the actual number of child casualties is believed to be far higher due to the difficulty in collecting data in hazardous environments.