Researchers from the Institute for Research and Innovation in Health (i3S) of the University of Porto have developed an injectable fetal biomaterial to regenerate the intervertebral disc and treat low back pain, and have already filed a patent application for the product.
In a statement, the Institute of the University of Porto clarifies this Friday that the team of start up Fetaldisc has filed a patent application for “First injectable fetal biomaterial to regenerate the intervertebral disc”.
The degeneration of the intervertebral disc causes low back pain, the main cause of disability in Portugal that occurs with aging.
The treatment options go through physiotherapy, medications or quite invasive surgeries, but, in most cases, no long term solutions.
During the investigation, the team used waste from the livestock industry, which is normally incinerated, and identified the existence of pro-regenerative components in fetal intervertebral discs.
“After processing in the laboratory, these tissues have a greater regenerative potential, that is, we verified a reappearance of proteins typical of a healthy environment in disc cells cultured in bovine fetal biomaterials,” says, quoted in the statement, the researcher and leader of the start up Fetaldisc.
According to Joana Caldeira, the developed biomaterial also has “ability to inhibit the formation of new blood vessels”process that is related to the intensity of pain, mobility and quality of life of patients.
The technology used “is based on the processing of fetal tissue in order to eliminate the existing cells in it, maintaining most of the remaining biochemical and structural components characteristic of the stages of embryonic development.”
In a later stage, the researchers proceeded to dehydration at low temperatures “to obtain a long useful life for the material in question” and “to save the storage process”, to then be injected “in the form of suspended particles”.
With an injectable material”eliminates the need for invasive surgery to patients with low back pain and reduces the time of intervention, recovery and hospitalization”.
“This biomaterial also has the advantage of being able to be produced in a simple, safe, accessible and scalable way”, says the researcher.
Joana Caldeira also points out that the sooner the intervention is carried out, the greater its potential should be, being able to “provide a preventive effect”.
“The team also foresees that this biomaterial could have a broader application in degenerative cartilage diseases that affect other joints, namely the knee, hip and shoulder”, adds the Institute of the University of Porto.
Within the framework of the “Women TechEU” program of the European Commission, start up received funding of 75,000 euros, which will validate the biomaterial in preclinical trials and consolidate the business model.
The European program aims promote female entrepreneurship in technology. This year, the initiative financed 134 technology-based companies, seven of which are in Portugal.