Engineered full-organ 3D intervertebral disc as a standardized model for studying disc degeneration and disease (INDEED)

Swiss National Funds
M D'Este, C Hélary, C Le Visage, S Ferguson


Disc degeneration is a major source of pain and disability worldwide, and a significant financial burden on healthcare providers. Attempts at understanding the mechanisms behind intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration are limited by the lack of suitable models recapitulating IVD physiology and disease. IVD is a complex heterogeneously composed organ situated between the vertebrae, where it is subjected to a challenging mechanical and biochemical environment. Presently available models of the IVD are inadequate, differing in composition, organization, and mechanical properties. Despite previous efforts, a standardized full IVD 3D model recapitulating key features of the native tissue and providing the necessary biochemical cues and mechanical performance, has not been reported yet.




The aim of the INDEED project is to address these shortcomings by developing a reproducible 3D bioprinted IVD model, composed of materials natively present in our bodies, and with similar mechanical properties. To that end, we are utilizing our combined expertise on disc biology and materials science to develop composite bioinks which allow independent tuning of extrusion and post-printing properties. We employ computational approaches to optimize both the bioprinting process and disc design. We believe that by allowing us to independently vary each of its parameters, this model will be of great interest in furthering our understanding of disc degeneration. Additionally, this project will contribute developing 3D bioprinting technologies to engineer human tissues.

  • Presentation
    Miklosic G, Eglin D, D'Este M. Towards a reproducible intervertebral disc model – a bioprintable nucleus pulposus-like material. 2020 GR forscht virtual (oral)
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