Keita Ito chairs the research group Orthopaedic Biomechanics, where engineering and biology are combined to expand our understanding of the biomechanical function of musculoskeletal tissues as well as their adaptive developmental and physiological nature. This knowledge is then applied to explore and develop regenerative treatment strategies. Currently the research focuses on four musculoskeletal tissues: bone; articular cartilage; intervertebral disc; and tendons/ligaments. He personally leads the research effort on the topic of the intervertebral discs. Degenerative disc disease is one of the most prevalent causes of back/neck pain that often leads to disability for individuals of working age. The goal of the research is to understand the basic mechanisms of disc degeneration and to develop long-term functional treatments for this condition. The strategy focuses on: exploring deficient nutrition, loss of high tissue tonicity and mechanical loading as mechanotransduction mechanisms of cellular stimulated degeneration; how these degenerative changes may cause failure of disc function; and then using this understanding to explore tissue engineering approaches towards disc regeneration. The approach is to combine numerical simulations with tissue explant ex vivo experiments in bioreactors where the physical environment can be controlled.
Scoliosis is a 3-dimensional (3D) structural deformity of the spine and thorax resulting in both axial rotation and lateral curvature. The most common type of scoliosis is adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). It affects approximately 2-3% of the population, i.e. approximately 9-13 million people in the European Union. It primarily affects previously healthy children and substantially diminishes their quality of life. As its name indicates -idiopathic- the causes are unknown, but we know that it is a progressive condition that depends on patient skeletal maturity and magnitude of curvature, i.e., the earlier and larger the curvature, the more aggressive the progression and severity of final curvature. With advanced curvature, patients suffer from poor self-image, truncal imbalance, increased pain, and decreased cardio-pulmonary function. In this challenge, we aim to generate a DT strategy to correct scoliosis with a custom-made brace embeded with sensors that can inform the surgeon in real-time the treatment progression and effectiveness.
A continous exchange of information between wereables (sensors) in a scoliosis brace and its digital twin.
Christen, P., Ito, K., Ellouz, R., Boutroy, S., Sornay-Rendu, E., Chapurlat, R.D. and Van Rietbergen, B., 2014. Bone remodelling in humans is load-driven but not lazy. Nature communications, 5(1), pp.1-5.
van Dijk, B.G., Potier, E. and Ito, K., 2013. Long-term culture of bovine nucleus pulposus explants in a native environment. The Spine Journal, 13(4), pp.454-463.
Cox, L.G.E., Van Donkelaar, C.C., Van Rietbergen, B., Emans, P.J. and Ito, K., 2013. Alterations to the subchondral bone architecture during osteoarthritis: bone adaptation vs endochondral bone formation. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 21(2), pp.331-338.