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ERC Proof of Concept Award for non-surgical lower back pain treatment

18 January 2024

AMBER, the SFI Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research is delighted to announce an ERC Proof of Concept Award for AMBER PI Conor Buckley for project iDISC. Professor In Biomedical Engineering at the Trinity Centre for Biomedical Engineering, Professor Buckley is also an Honorary Associate Professor in RCSI.

Prof Buckley’s project ‘Rejuvenation of the Intervertebral Disc Using Self-Healing Biomimetic Extracellular Matrix Biomaterial Tissue Adhesives (iDISC)’ sees beyond the current state-of-the-art platform technology resulting in the development of injectable biomimetic hydrogel systems for the lower back which can facilitate earlier interventions aimed at halting the degenerative process and restore natural biomechanical function through minimally invasive spine treatment strategies.

Speaking following the announcement of iDISC’s ERC Proof of Concept Award Prof Buckley said, “The ERC POC award is a fantastic opportunity to accelerate my labs research in developing new strategies in treating disc degeneration offering new hope and insights for patients suffering from back pain. This research opens new horizons in minimally invasive spine treatment strategies but also has the potential to enhance patient quality of life, reduce healthcare expenses, and minimise lost productivity throughout the European Union.”

iDISC was awarded ERC Proof of Concept 2023 which sees the project receive €150,000 over an 18-month period to progress biomechanical testing, pre-clinical evaluation, and marketing and commercialisation evaluation. This ERC POC builds on previous research funding to Prof Buckley’s lab from the European Research Council, Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Research Council and provides a continuation of the development of next generation injectable biomaterials for tissue repair.

Prof Buckley in summarising the importance of this award “this proof of concept award provides the necessary funding to pioneer innovative solutions in treating back pain which affects over 600 million people worldwide and is the single leading cause of disability in people under 45 years of age.”

ERC Proof of Concept funding is made available only to those who already have an ERC award to establish proof of concept of an idea that was generated in the course of their ERC-funded projects. The objective is to enable ERC-funded ideas to progress on the path from ground-breaking research towards innovation. https://erc.europa.eu/apply-grant/proof-concept

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