Modern artificial spinal discs are commonly made of rigid materials such as metal and plastic, but your own annulus fibrosus disci intervertebralis are softer and bouncy, more like a stiff gel. Cornell researchers have successfully tested artificial discs in a mouse model that are made of collagen and a hydrogel called alginate. The discs were populated with mice’s own cells and the implants actually improved over time as new cells grew within the implant’s matrix. After six months of living with the new discs, the mice retained 80-90% of their implants’ initial height.
The scientists hope they can soon move to trialing the discs in larger animals in preparation for clinical studies on humans.
Cornell announcement: Back, neck pain sufferers could find relief with Cornell-developed spinal disc implants…
Abstract in PNAS: Tissue-engineered intervertebral discs produce new matrix, maintain disc height, and restore biomechanical function to the rodent spine