Drs. Purmessur and Higuita-Castro awarded the NIH R61 grant

Posted: September 24, 2019

In collaboration with Dr. Devina Purmessur of Ohio State's Spinal Therapeutics Lab, the Higuita-Castro Nano-Medicine lab was awarded the NIH R61 grant to study non-viral reprogramming of intervertebral disc cells for the treatment of discogenic back pain. In this exciting project, novel nanotechnology-enabled tools will be used to achieve non-viral delivery of developmental transcription factors to reprogram diseased nucleus pulposus cells from painful intervertebral discs to a healthy biosynthetically active anti-catabolic/inflammatory/pain phenotype in vitro and in vivo using translational models that will ultimately lead to clinical trials in human patients.

Cellular reprogramming of intervertebral disc cells is a novel concept for the treatment of discogenic back pain and there is a critical need to develop non-addictive treatments that target both the underlying cause of disease as well as pain to improve human health and quality of life. The R61 grant will allow for exploratory and/or developmental research to be conducted on discogenic back pain using methods unique to the Higuita-Castro Nano-Medicine lab, such as Tissue Nano-Transfection (TNT).

This study will be conducted with co-investigators Dr. Safdar Khan, MD (Orthopedics, Ohio State), Dr. Daniel Gallego-Perez (Biomedical Engineering, Ohio State), Dr. Benjamin Walter (Biomedical Engineering, Ohio State) and Dr. Xiaokui Mo (Biostatistics, Ohio State). Additional collaborators for this study will include Dr. Judith Hoyland (University of Manchester, UK) and Dr. Sarah Moore, DVM (College of Veterinary Medicine, Ohio State)