Tissue Engineering of the Spine






image
image




Nucleus pulposus cells attached to material substrate (12 hours)


Nucleus pulposus tissue covers scaffold substrate (21 days)


Back pain is one of the most frequently reported orthopaedic problems. In the United States, 80% of the adult population will miss work at least three times in their career due to back pain. The most common factor causing this pain is the degeneration of the disc between the vertebrae of the spine. At the ages between 35 to 37, approximately one third of the population has already suffered from hernias to the disc. Current non-operative treatments only address symptoms do not prevent degradation and do not restore the tissues. Furthermore, today’s surgical techniques are limited to end stage disease and produce variable results. In our studies, biological repair is pursued by treating the diseased disc with materials that stimulate intervertebral disk cell function and regeneration of nucleus pulposus tissue. The figure above demonstrates proliferation of adult rabbit nucleus pulposus cells cultured in vitro (from Gan et al., Bioactive Glass serves as a substrate for maintenance of phenotype of nucleus pulposus cells of the Intervertebral disc. J. Biomed. Mater. Res., 51, 596, 2000).