The design and synthesis of a synthetic intervertebral disc involves a collaborative project between Aston and two other UK research teams, Oxford University and the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry. The aim was to develop an injectable biomimetic nucleus pulposus prosthesis to restore disc height in the ageing intervertebral disc, without the need for invasive surgery. The principle behind the technology is the development of synthetic analogues of the natural proteoglycans, which so effectively control hydration in the body. The analogue was created using two sulphonate containing monomers that polymerise in situ using a redox method of polymerisation.
Achievements of intervertebral disc work:
a well-exemplified patent, against which no prior art has been raised is now in the public domain (WO2009/127844A2)
recognition in the US “Best Spine Technologies of 2009” awards, where it was highlighted as one of the top three regenerative spinal technologies of the year
the material has received coverage in “trade” journals (Orthopaedics This Week) and on BBC television.
Current IOL materials are based on silicone, acrylic or rigid PMMA. The mechanical properties (stiffness) of these materials are dictated by their manufacturing requirements, for instance the ability of the material to withstand lathing. These materials are too stiff to allow accommodation of the eye. The development of an injectable IOL based on a proteoglycan analogue similar to that of the intervertebral disc material, which polymerises in situ, provides a material elastic enough to allow the eye to accommodate. The material uses sulphonate-containing monomers such as NaAMPs and KSPA to mimic the sulphate group in natural proteoglycans.