Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bioengineers develop new approach to regenerate back discs

Date:
July 16, 2013
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Cell therapies may stop or reverse the pain and disability of degenerative disc disease and the loss of material between vertebrae, according to scientists.

This is a schematic of the treatment site.
Credit: Aubrey Francisco

Cell therapies may stop or reverse the pain and disability of degenerative disc disease and the loss of material between vertebrae, according to Duke University scientists.

The health conditions affect thousands of Americans. To use cell therapies, however, scientists have to keep the cells alive, synthesize the appropriate replacement material and get it to the right place in a patient's spine. With newly made biomaterials from Duke's Pratt School of Engineering, that goal could be closer.

In a proof-of-concept study published online in the journal Biomaterials, graduate student Aubrey Francisco and biomedical engineering professor Lori Setton describe a new biomaterial designed to deliver a booster shot of reparative cells to the nucleus pulposus, or NP -- the jelly-like cushion naturally found between spinal discs. The NP tissue distributes pressure and provides spine mobility, helping to relieve back pain.

"Our primary goal was to create a material that would be liquid at the start, gel after injection in the disc space and keep the cells in the location where they're needed," Setton said. "Our second goal was to create a material that would provide the delivered cells with the environmental cues to promote their persistence and biosynthesis."

Disc degeneration is a common problem as people age. Over time, the soft, compressible discs that work as the spine's shock absorbers break down. Although this intervertebral disc degeneration can occur anywhere along the spine, it mainly happens near the neck and lower back, causing intense pain. Individuals with this condition can also develop herniated discs, osteoarthritis or spinal narrowing, known as spinal stenosis.

Previous lab research has shown that re-implanting NP cells, or even stem cells, can delay disc degeneration. Several companies already offer cell delivery strategies, but the methods are poor and ineffective. "They allow the cells to quickly migrate out of and away from the injection site," Francisco said.

The Duke team's delivery strategy keeps the cells in place and provides cues that mimic laminin, a protein in native nucleus pulposus tissue. Laminin is normally found in juvenile but not degenerated discs and allows injected cells to attach and remain in place with the delivered biomaterial. Laminin may also enable the cells to survive longer and produce more of the appropriate extracellular matrix or structural underpinning of the discs that help stop degeneration, Setton said.

The researchers, funded by the National Institutes of Health, developed a gel mix designed to reintroduce NP cells to the intervertebral disc (IVD) site. The gel mixes together three components: the protein laminin-111 that has been chemically modified and two polyethylene glycol (PEG) hydrogels that can attach to the modified laminin. Separately, these substances remain in a liquid state. The gel, however, holds the cells in place upon injection.

The researchers worked with postdoctoral scholar Robby Bowles to tag NP cells with the bioluminescent marker luciferase and track their location. They then injected the gel into rats' tails just as a surgeon would deliver cells to a patient. After puncturing the tail's thin outer layer, they held the needle in place for one minute, delivered the injection to the rat's IVD site, and closed the injection spot. The solution began to solidify after five minutes and was completely set at 20 minutes.

Images of the luciferase biomarker showed that more than 14 days after injection significantly more cells remained in place when delivered within the biomaterial carrier compared to cells delivered in a liquid suspension. Francisco explained that using the currently available cellular delivery strategies, 100 percent of the injected NP cells leak out of an IVD site within three to four days after injection.

The results, although preliminary, could have a positive impact on the future of cell therapy, Setton said. More work, however, is still needed to optimize equipment and models that deliver cells to a larger IVD sites closer to human size, the researchers said.

"The concept is that these cells will be promoted to produce matrix that can support tissue regeneration or arrest degeneration," Setton said. "Additional studies that evaluate disc height or matrix hydration following cell delivery would be important to achieve this goal. There's definitely interest and certainly real potential there."

Collaborators from Duke University Medical Center were William Richardson, M.D., a spine surgeon in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, and Farshid Guilak, professor of orthopaedic surgery and biomedical engineering. Robert Mancino, a 2013 bachelor's degree recipient from the Pratt School of Engineering, worked on this study as part of his independent research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. The original article was written by Whitney Howell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Aubrey T. Francisco, Robert J. Mancino, Robby D. Bowles, Jonathan M. Brunger, David M. Tainter, Yi-Te Chen, William J. Richardson, Farshid Guilak, Lori A. Setton. Injectable laminin-functionalized hydrogel for nucleus pulposus regeneration. Biomaterials, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2013.06.038

Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Bioengineers develop new approach to regenerate back discs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130716120108.htm>.
Duke University. (2013, July 16). Bioengineers develop new approach to regenerate back discs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130716120108.htm
Duke University. "Bioengineers develop new approach to regenerate back discs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130716120108.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Peace Corps is one of several U.S.-based organizations to pull workers out of West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Health officials say 2,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. due to weather, but it's excessive heat and cold that claim the most lives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins