Bret Ulery, PhD, and Christina Goldstein, MD

Principal Investigators

Bret Ulery, PhD

Department of Chemical Engineering

Christina Goldstein, MD

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Christina Goldstein, MD (left)
Bret Ulery, PhD (right)

OsteoGel: Injectable Osteomodulatory hydrogels for vertebral compression fracture repair

Vertebral compression fractures (VCFs)are the most common fractures in patients with osteoporosis and occur in nearly750,000 people annually. VCFs occur when the vertebral body collapses and lead to significant pain, deformity and severe functional limitation. Although osteoporosisis the most common cause, these fractures may also be caused by trauma or tumors. VCFs contribute nearly $13.8 billion to direct health care costs and are a major public health problem. First-line treatments for symptoms of VCFs include non-operative interventions, such as activity modification, bed rest, bracing and analgesics, but these interventions do not treat the underlying osteoporosis. Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), commonly known as bone cement, may be injected to stabilize the fracture but can lead to the development of additional VCFs because the cement is stiffer than the surrounding bone. Hence, treatments for VCFs that mimic normal bone biomechanics and provide mechanical support while promoting bone healing desperately are needed. The principal investigators are developing a novel biomaterial that meets these requirements. Their solution uses hydrogels that have been modified to give the material mechanical properties that can be “tuned” to optimal strength as well as osteomodulary properties that treat the most common underlying cause of VCFs.