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Multi-scale biomechanical modelling and simulation of the intervertebral disc (DiscSim)
Start date: Apr 2, 2012, End date: Apr 1, 2014 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Computational mechanics techniques have revolutionised the design and analysis of engineered structures. The emerging field of Computational Biomechanics (CB) applies these techniques to study biological structures and systems. A key advantage of CB is the ability to predict physical quantities (such as flow and deformation) over a range of length and timescales in biological tissues, whereas such quantities are difficult or impossible to measure experimentally in living organisms.This project will develop multiscale CB approaches to analyse the largest avascular structure in the human body, the intervertebral disc. The intervertebral disc is subjected to large deformations during spinal motion, withstands transient loads of up to 9 times body weight during rigorous physical activity, and due to its lack of blood supply, its nutrient supply is provided by fluid-borne diffusion through the disc tissues from the adjacent vertebral bodies. A multiscale model of the intervertebral disc will substantially advance the study of disc mechanics by linking whole disc loading and deformation to the mechanical microenvironment experienced by cells embedded within the disc tissue. This approach promises new insights into tissue repair and remodelling in healthy discs, into tissue damage and cell death in degenerate discs, and in predicting disc response to emerging treatments such as annular repair and nucleus replacement.
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