Novel Shape-Memory Biomaterial for Intervertebral Disc Tissue Regeneration


Spinal disc degeneration is a common affliction and often originates in the hydrogel core of the disc, called the nucleus pulposus (NP). Disc degeneration leads to pain and discomfort and is treated most commonly by therapies to mitigate the symptoms since no real solutions exist to heal the tissue. There is a definitive gap in the options to effectively treat mild to moderate disc degeneration and nucleus pulposus replacement is emerging as a promising approach to fill this treatment gap.

Introduced here is an emerging technology, developed in the Department of Bioengineering, which is a highly elastic novel shape-memory resilient material to replace the NP in form and function. The aim is to effectively replace the degenerating tissue with a material that functions like native NP tissue and that is gradually remodeled by the body. Other NP replacement materials and devices are in development; however, they include mechanical devices or synthetic hydrogels and offer to be a permanent synthetic implant to permanently replace the NP. 

To date, in vitro and in vivo animal studies have been conducted demonstrating the biocompatibility of the material and its ability to support tissue development. Further, dynamic mechanical test demonstrate the resilient nature of the biomaterial including its ability to expel and resorb fluid as the load shifts, just like a native nucleus pulposus.


· Minimally invasive replacement of the nucleus pulposus within mild to moderate degenerating Intervertebral disc

· Orthopedic tissue scaffold material (i.e. cartilage)

· Soft tissue defect filler


· Material mimics both form and function of native nucleus pulposus

· Supports autologous cell viability and remodeling

· Provides for regeneration of a functional NP through gradual remodeling into healthy NP tissue in vivo

· Moldable to fit custom anatomy based on MRI

· Scalable process

· Utilizes known and accepted biopolymer base materials

· Can be introduced via minimally invasive procedure


Inventors:                        Dan Simionescu, Jeremy Mercuri

Protection Status:           Patent application filed

Licensing Status:            Available for licensing

Additional Terms:          Intervetebral disc replacement, Spinal disc, Orthopedic device

CURF Ref No:                2011-088 


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Patent Information:
Biomedical Sciences
For Information, Contact:
Charlie Shaw
Clemson University Research Foundation
Dan Simionescu
Jeremy Mercuri
Medical Device
Regenerative Medicine
Stem-Cell Engineering
Tissue Engineering
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