Engineering Minute

Engineering Minute – Bioengineered Discs Treat Back Pain

A new study released by Penn Medicine and published in Science Translational Medicine demonstrates the successful implantation of bioengineered spinal discs as a means to treat back pain. The discs not only provided pain relief but also restored function in animal models. The discs, known as endplate-modified disc-like angle ply structures or eDAPS, are engineered to mimic native spinal segment structures in order to promote integration of the disc into native tissues.


“This is a major step: to grow such a large disc in the lab, to get it into the disc space, and then to have it to start integrating with the surrounding native tissue. That’s very promising,” said Robert L. Mauck, PhD, a professor for Education and Research in Orthopaedic Surgery in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine and a Research Health Scientist at the Corporal Michael Crescenz VA Medical Center (CMC VAMC) in Philadelphia, and co-senior author of the paper. “The current standard of care does not actually restore the disc, so our hope with this engineered device is to replace it in a biological, functional way and regain full range of motion.”


From the Penn Medicine article: "MRI, along with histological, mechanical, and biochemical analyses, showed that the eDAPS restored native disc structure, biology, and mechanical function in the rat model. Building off that success, the researchers then implanted the eDAPS into the cervical spine of goats. They chose the goat because its cervical spinal disc dimensions are similar to humans’ and goats have the benefit of semi-upright stature.Researchers demonstrated successful total disc replacement in the goat cervical spine. After four weeks, matrix distribution was either retained or improved within the large-scale eDAPS. MRI results also suggest that disc composition at eight weeks was maintained or improved, and that the mechanical properties either matched or exceeded those of the native goat cervical disc."


Read more about the bioengineered discs that treat back pain at Penn Medicine.