The Bae Laboratory is focused on spine tissue engineering research. Both mechanical and biological stimuli have an impact on the intervertebral disc (IVD). Degeneration of the IVD is one of the main causes for lower back pain and is characterized by morphological changes linked to increased levels of inflammatory and catabolic proteins. Furthermore, an altered disc mechanobiology has been shown in degenerated discs compared with healthy discs. Current therapies for IVD degeneration are still unsatisfactory, since they do not treat the underlying process.
Of particular interest in the Bae Lab is the regulation of inflammatory and catabolic proteins in human IVD cells and tissues with and without mechanical stimulation. Furthermore, we are interested in testing potential biological treatments for a reduction of inflammatory and catabolic processes in vitro and in vivo. These include peptides, cells or biomaterials. Understanding the cell responses to mechanical and biological stimuli will help us develop new strategies to treat intervertebral disc degeneration.