Using porcine notochordal biomatrix, we have developed a patented injectable technology that triggers the native repair mechanisms of joint tissues.
How does it work?
When a patient requires therapy, the powder is mixed with a saline solution to form a viscous gel. The physician then injects this gel into the affected joint through a very thin needle. See VitaDisc® for a product-specific application.
Our technology has a 2-step mode of action:
Step 1: Biomechanical restoration
Depending on the type of joint, our technology can increase height and volume (intervertebral disc) or improve lubrication (osteoarthritic joints). This restores joint biomechanics.
In an ex-vivo goat intervertebral disc study, where disc degeneration was enzyme-induced, disc height and dynamic compression behaviour were restored at four days post-treatment with NCM. (de Wildt WM, et al., “Notochordal cell-derived matrix hydrogel to restore biomechanics of the degenerated intervertebral disc”, 25th Congress of the European Society of Biomechanics, 2019.)
Additionally, reciprocating sliding friction tests of bovine cartilage on glass were performed to test NCM’s lubricating properties relative to and in combination with hyaluronic acid. NCM induced a dose-dependent reduction of the coefficient of friction similar to HA at a test speed of 6, as well as 60 mm/s, indicating that it has favorable lubricating properties.
Step 2: Support for autologous tissue restoration
In the longer term, we have observed the establishment of an environment supportive of autologous tissue restoration, with evidence of reduced levels of inflammation and improvements in imaging, macroscopic and histological appearance.
In an in-vivo canine study, evidence of the establishment of this supportive environment emerged as a secondary effect 6 months after treatment. It appears that the mechanical initial mode of action of the NC Biomatrix product provides an ideal environment which supports autogeneration of the spinal disc core. (Bach FC, et al., Biologic canine and human intervertebral disc repair by notochordal cell-derived matrix: from bench towards bedside, in Oncotarget, 2018)
Gene expression and biochemistry show reduced inflammation:
- Reduction in expression of genes associated with inflammation
- Reduction in inflammatory markers measured in the tissue (↓ IL-1β ↓ TNFα ↓ PGE2)
Histology and pathomorphology show improvements in macroscopic and histological appearance of tissue:
- Increased production of ECM , particularly type II collagen
- Reduction in Boos Histologic Degeneration Score (0-15) from 20 to 17 (baseline 14)
- Reduction in Thompson Gross Morphology Score (I to V) from III+ to II+ (baseline II+)
Disc measurements show restoration:
- Reduction in Pfirrmann MRI Degeneration Score (I to V) from IV+ to III+ (baseline II)
- Increase in Disc Height Index from 0% to 15%
Why porcine notochord?
The notochord is a midline longitudinal structure in vertebrates that provides signalling to surrounding tissue during fetal development. It is the ancestor of the spine.
Notochordal cells produce the matrix and molecules essential for the health and development of spinal tissues and—as we’ve discovered—aid in inducing health in other joints (i.e., cartilage).
While humans lose most of these cells in the first 5–10 years of life, some animals—rabbits, pigs, and certain breeds of dogs among others—retain these cells throughout their life. By retaining their notochordal cells, these animals maintain a healthy disc matrix awash in bioactive molecules and avoid joint tissue degradation. By using notochordal cell matrix, the difficult and time-consuming step to identify and produce the specific soluble active factors secreted by notochordal cells is rendered unnecessary.
Our technology consists of harvesting and processing this matrix in a way that preserves its potential to create an environment that supports autologous restoration of healthy joint tissue. After processing of the tissue, a powder is produced that is terminally sterilised and can be stored for a long period.
Why pigs? Pigs are routinely slaughtered for human food consumption, with their spines discarded as refuse. However, after undergoing rigorous disinfection, they are a rich source of notochordal matrix. We recycle these spines to create our joint-saving technology.