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Scientists create spinal disc from mulberry silk

Kalyan Ray, DH News Service, New Delhi, Jan 2 2018, 14:36 IST
Artificial Inter-vertebra Disc-Silk

Artificial Inter-vertebra Disc-Silk

An Indo-US team of scientists has created an artificial inter-vertebral disc from mulberry silk.

Because of its abilities to accurately mimic the human disc that acts as a soft cushion between two vertebra, the artificial biodisc has the potential to replace the metallic or ceramic or collagen-based discs that neuro-surgeons use at the moment to surgically cure some of the lower back pains.

Inter-vertebral disk degeneration is a major cause of lower back pain and limited mobility, contributing significantly to health-care expenditures.

While the common treatment is medication and exercise, in 2005, US regulator Food and Drug Administration approved a surgical intervention in which the damaged disc was taken out only to be replaced with an implant for restoring the normal movement of the lumbar and the spine.

As the implants have limitations, scientists from all over the world look for an alternative material to create a better quality disc using tissue engineering.

The biodisc fabricated by the researchers at Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati and Tufts University, Massachusetts mimicked the internal intricacy of a human disc.

Acceptance

The mechanical properties of these biodiscs were similar to those of the human ones. "When we implanted the disc in mice during the course of our experiment, there was not much foreign body response and barely any inflammatory response. This suggests the material's acceptance in the body," IIT scientist Biman Mandal, who led the team told DH.

"A small unit of the construct was implanted subcutaneously to show its negligible immune response.

The success means that the silk-based bioartificial disc can be a promising strategy for future direction toward disc replacement therapy," the team reported in the December 25 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists said they validated the new material in small animals. In the next step, the same would be tried on large animals like sheep or goat before it can go for a clinical trial.

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