Petit Institute Seminar

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“Regenerative Medicine for Treating Intervertebral Disc Disorders”

Lori A. Setton, PhD
William Bevan Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedic Surgery
Duke University

Low back pain now ranks as #1 for disease impact in the USA, due in part to intervertebral disc disorders that contribute to pain and disability in millions of affected individuals. Pathological processes for resident cells of the intervertebral disc, the nucleus pulposus cells, contribute to a dysfunctional production of inflammatory cytokines and premature cell death that can drive loss of intervertebral disc height, tissue destruction and herniation. Inflammatory cytokines produced by resident cells and recruited monocytes are known to mediate the painful symptoms of intervertebral disc herniation, although systemic treatment with inflammatory antagonists (e.g., tumor necrosis factor “blockers”) has failed to date. Her laboratory has developed in situ forming drug depots for local delivery of “TNF blockers” and other inflammatory antagonists to increase drug residence time and bioactivity in the treatment of intervertebral disc herniation. Her laboratory has also advanced knowledge of environmental cues that are necessary to maintain healthy, biosynthetically active nucleus pulposus cells, factors that can be manipulated to attenuate inflammatory cytokine expression, promote matrix biosynthesis, and control progenitor cell differentiation. In this talk, she will describe their work with engineering substrates and protein-conjugated biomaterials to deliver cells to the disc, and drugs to the perineural space, for regeneration purposes.

Lori Setton received her B.S.E. from Princeton University in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, with M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University. She joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University in 1994, where she has serves as the Bevan Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedic Surgery. Her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms for degeneration and regeneration of soft tissues of the musculoskeletal system. Recent work focuses on development of in situ forming hydrogels for drug delivery and tissue regeneration in the knee joints and spine. She has funded her lab through grants from the NIH, NSF, Whitaker Foundation, Coulter Foundation, OREF, AO Foundation, and North Carolina Biotechnology Center and research agreements with several corporations. She has over 140 peer-reviewed publications and has licensed several patents for commercial development. She has served on the Editorial Advisory Boards of the Annual Reviews of Biomedical Engineering, Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, and Journal of Biomechanics. She has also served as a permanent member of NIH and NSF study sections, as a consultant to NIH and AAOS, and on the Boards of the Biomedical Engineering Society, Orthopaedic Research Society and World Council on Biomechanics. She is a Fellow of the BMES, the AIMBE and has received a PECASE Award, Dean's Award for Outstanding Research, Graduate Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring, and ASME’s Mow Medal.


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