Cornell University engineers and doctors at the Weill Cornell Medical College have created a biologically-based spinal implant to alleviate neck and back pain.

Lawrence Bonassar, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering, and Roger Härtl, MD, associate professor of neurosurgery at Weill Cornell Medical College, chief of spinal surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, have created bioengineered spinal discs that have been successfully implanted and tested in animals. These implants would treat degenerative disc disease. 

The research will be published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "We’ve engineered discs that have the same structural components and behave just like real discs," Bonassar said.

Unlike artificial implants that degrade over time, the scientists are seeing that the implants get better as they mature in the body, due to the growth of the cells. "Our implants have maintained 70-80% of initial disc height. In fact, the mechanical properties get better with time," Bonassar added.

[Source: Cornell University]