Skip to main content

SQI: Simpson Querry Institute

Stupp and Hsu labs tackle growth factor-free spinal fusion

Bone is the second-most transplanted tissue in the United States, with between 1.6 and 2 million surgeries performed each year. More than 500,000 of these procedures involve spine fusions, which often use autograft bone — bone taken from the patient — and it may be unavailable for various reasons. So far, researchers have not discovered a universally safe and effective substitute for autograft bone. SQI director Samuel Stupp and SQI members Erin and Wellington Hsu are out to solve this critical problem.

In a new study conducted in partnership with Northwestern University's Dr. Stuart Stock and Prof. Malcom Snead at the University of Southern California, the researchers will facilitate the repair and regeneration of bone by enhancing the bone-forming capacity of a patient's own stem cells and native growth factors. Stupp, Hsu, and Hsu plan to develop and validate a nanofiber scaffold that can be used either on its own or for the delivery of bone marrow stromal cells to elicit successful spine fusion without the need for recombinant growth factors. If successful, the five-year study will result in a highly effective strategy to regenerate bone that eliminates the need for recombinant proteins, reducing the risks associated with spinal fusion and other orthopaedic procedures that require bone healing.