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NPmimetic

 

BIOMIMETIC NANO-FIBER-BASED NUCLEUS PULPOSUS REGENERATION FOR THE TREATMENT OF DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE

 

Project Budget 5,126,188 Euros

 

The main cause for back pain is considered to be the degenerative changes in the InterVertebral Disc (IVD). Indeed, Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is one of the largest health problems faced worldwide when judged by lost work time direct and indirect costs. An estimated 50 million people suffered from back pain in 2004, while more than 1 million spine surgeries were performed (far more than hip and knee replacements combined) in USA. The intervertebral disc is formed of the Annulus Fibrosus (AF), which is a tough outer layer of fibrocartilage, surrounding a soft, elastic and gelatinous core, the Nucleus Pulposus (NP). The Nucleus Pulposus is composed primarily of water with scattered reticular and elastic fibers, giving the disc resiliency and enabling it to act as a shock absorber. With age, the water content of the Nucleus Pulposus decreases and the disc gradually becomes less effective as a cushion. As a result, mechanical load on the AF, leads to weakening of the AF and eventually to its cracking through which part of the gelatinous Nucleus Pulposus pours out. DDD involves an accelerated pathology, initiated by a small protrusion that presses the posterior, longitudinal ligament causing pain in the back, followed by large protrusion that herniates through the posterior ligament, intruding an issuing nerve thus causing an agonizing pain. Progressive degeneration of the disc leads to osteoarthritis, including angiogenesis and cytokine release in the area that can spread to the posterior intervertebral joints as well as the central joints.  The IVD does not possess self-repair capacity and current treatment options for DDD range from pain management, e.g. plaster jacket, steel reinforced corset, pain reducing drugs and physiotherapy, to massively invasive procedures e.g. "spinal fusion". Surgeons seek new spinal technologies, which are minimally invasive to reduce pain, preserve motion together with long-term cure. The science of disc cell transplantation is still in its infancy while advancement in nanotechnology based tissue regeneration techniques may offer the possibility of repairing damaged discs.

The NPmimetic project will develop a biomimetic nano-polymer based gel for minimally invasive disc regeneration treatment: Electro-spinning technology will be exploited to design and develop a nano-fiber based, biocompatible, biodegradable, synthetic scaffold that will mimic the mechanical properties of the native Nucleus Pulposus for immediate and short term treatment. Anti-inflammatory drugs will be carried by the biodegradable nano-fibers to be gradually released in situ for healing and preventing inflammation.  Furthermore, the synthetic scaffold will be integrated with a bioactive-nano-polymer which is highly potent in supporting Nucleus Pulposus cells (NPCs) for long-term cure.

Thus NPmimetic proposes a novel cell based treatment for degenerating discs, using a novel biomimetic gel.

 

The consortium

 

Beneficiary name

Country

NICAST Ltd

IL

CM

FR

ProCore Ltd

IL

AO Research Institute

CH

Vrije Universiteit medisch centrum (VUmc) - Skeletal Tissue Engineering Group Amsterdam

NL

University Hospital Zurich

CH

University of Minho, Engineering School

PT

Melab Medizintechnik und Labor GmbH

DE

Sheffield Hallam University, Polymers, Composites and Spectroscopy

UK

OSM-DAN Ltd.

IL

 

Link to NPmimetic website