Implant jab could solve the misery of back pain

May 19, 2011, University of Manchester

(PhysOrg.com) -- University of Manchester scientists have developed a biomaterial implant which could finally bring treatment, in the form of a jab, for chronic back pain.

Chronic is a major problem for society – behind only headaches as the most common neurological ailment – and is frequently caused by degeneration of the intervertebral disc.

Researchers have worked for many years to find a way of repairing the wear and tear on the lower back.

Now, in results published in the journal Soft Matter, they have discovered how to permanently replace the workings of the invertebral disc.

It is estimated that back affects 80% of people at some point in their lives. In the United States it is the most common cause of job-related disability, a leading contributor to people missing work.

The University of Manchester cross-faculty team have been working with microgel particles, which are swellable nanoscopic polymer particles, for a number of years.

Previously, they have demonstrated that an injectable fluid of these particles could transform into a gel that restored the mechanical properties of damaged model intervertebral discs.

Lead researcher Dr Brian Saunders, of the School of Materials, and his team have now succeeded in linking the microgel particles together to form injectable durable, elastic gels capable of sustaining large permanent changes in shape without breaking.

These improved injectable gels have much better mechanical properties than the first generation and should now display the necessary long-term durability required for an implanted device.

In this study the researchers – who include PhD student Amir Milani and Dr Ruixue Liu – have achieved an important milestone for producing injectable gels for minimally-invasive repair of IVD degeneration.

Dr Saunders said: ““Our team has made a breakthrough through innovative materials design that brings the prospect of an injectable gel for treating degeneration of the intervertebral disc a step closer.

Professor Tony Freemont, Head of Research in the School of Biomedicine, and co-author on the paper, added:
“Degeneration of the intervertebral disc results in which costs the country billions of pounds per annum and causes untold misery for sufferers and their families.

“We have been working for 25 years to identify methods for treating degeneration of the intervertebral disc.”

More information: Doubly crosslinked pH-responsive microgels prepared by particle inter-penetration: swelling and mechanical properties, by Ruixue Liu, Amir H. Milani, Tony J. Freemont and Brian R. Saunders, Soft Matter.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Researchers illustrate how muscle growth inhibitor is activated, could aid in treating ALS

January 19, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine are part of an international team that has identified how the inactive or latent form of GDF8, a signaling protein also known as myostatin responsible for ...

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.