National University of Ireland Galway

The Pandit laboratory at the Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM) has validated the efficacy of a hyaluronan hydrogel to alleviate pain, reduce nociceptive behavior, downregulate nociception markers and inhibit hyper-innervation in a novel rat model of pain induced by intervertebral disc injury. Furthermore, the hyaluronan hydrogel altered glycosylation and modulated key inflammatory and regulatory signalling pathways, resulting in attenuation of inflammation and regulation of matrix components. These results suggest that the hyaluronan hydrogel is a promising clinical candidate for treatment of back pain caused by degenerated disc. The Pandit laboratory has partnered on the Disc Regeneration, a 7th European Framework project consisting of 17 academic and industry partners from 9 different EU countries which developed a minimally invasive tissue engineered construct with gradients of biological cues tuned to specific regions of the disc substitute structure to control angiogenesis. Prof Pandit is currently a partner in an Annulus Fibrosus Rupture (AFR) consortium consisting of 7 partners from Europe, the United States of America and Japan. This project has developed a hollow type I collagen/hyaluronan microsphere system with a goal of generating a biomimic of a physiological stem cell niche in the annulus fibrosus incorporating regulatory molecules to control angiogenesis of the intervertebral disc which secrete signals to enhance the regeneration of the AF and inhibit degeneration. In iPSpine NUI Galway will lead and support with their state of the art infrastructure the developments of smart biomaterials with instructive and structural features supporting the rejuvenation of the degenerated disc.

Prof Abhay Pandit has established the national Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM). CÚRAM brings together 510 researchers with expertise in biomaterials, biomechanics, regenerative medicine, glycobiology, drug delivery and medical implant design, in addition to 27 industry partners. He worked in industry securing regulatory clearance for a hydrophilic wound dressing, and Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) approval for tissue sealants. In his academic career he has licensed three biomaterial technologies to Irish medical device companies. The Pandit laboratory will aid in determining the scaffolds’ biochemical and biological properties, the required assays systems and model systems, and the rodent model of intervertebral disc.