Research ArticleTissue Engineering

Long-term mechanical function and integration of an implanted tissue-engineered intervertebral disc

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Science Translational Medicine  21 Nov 2018:
Vol. 10, Issue 468, eaau0670
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aau0670

Dependable discs

Intervertebral disc degeneration causes back and neck pain, sometimes necessitating disc fusion surgery. Although fusion may alleviate symptoms, it does not address the underlying cause of degeneration. As an alternative to fusion, Gullbrand and colleagues developed tissue-engineered discs for disc replacement by sandwiching hydrogel and polymer materials seeded with cartilage or mesenchymal stem cells between acellular polymer endplates. Engineered discs integrated with native discs, maintaining their structure and showing near-native mechanical properties 5 months after implantation in a rodent disc replacement model. Similar results were seen 2 months after implantation in a goat model, demonstrating the translational feasibility of this tissue engineering approach.

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