A steady ageing of society leads to an increasing number of age-related pathologies in the intervertebral disc area. This causes enormous health costs and economic losses due to back problems.
This is not only a problem on Earth, but also for astronauts in space. There the intervertebral discs are not stressed enough due to the prevailing weightlessness, which leads to accelerated damage.
Due to the low availability of human material for research, alternative systems are sought which are able to simulate the in vivo situation in the best possible way. We use intervertebral discs that we isolate from cow tails - from the local slaughterhouse. The advantage of this model is the good availability and the easy handling. As soon as we have achieved well-founded results with this model, we plan to test the whole thing on human material as well.
The cultivation and loading of the intervertebral discs takes place in a bioreactor specially developed by us - in cooperation with other institutes of the HSLU, T&A - for this purpose. This bioreactor was designed especially for use on our RPM. With simulated weightlessness we create a relief model similar to the conditions in space that we know lead to accelerated disc degeneration.
Our research aims to develop and characterize a synergistic model consisting of a physiological stress model and simulated weightlessness. Such an orthopedic model for the simulation of intervertebral disc wear and injuries due to overloading and misloading allows extensive scientific studies of degradation processes and their prevention by establishing curative mechanical stress patterns.