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A Pre-clinical Standard Operating Procedure for Evaluating Orthobiologics in an In Vivo Rat Spinal Fusion Model

Author(s): Andrew L Alejo, Scott McDermott, Yusuf Khalil, Hope C Ball, Gabrielle T Robinson, Ernesto Solorzano, Amanda M Alejo, Jacob Douglas, Trinity K Samson, Jesse W Young, Fayez F Safadi

The rat animal model is a cost effective and reliable model used in spinal pre-clinical research. Complications from various surgical procedures in humans often arise that were based on these pre-clinical animal models. Therefore safe and efficacious pre-clinical animal models are needed to establish continuity into clinical trials. A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a validated method that allows researchers to safely and carefully replicate previously successful surgical techniques. Thus, the aim of this study is to describe in detail the procedures involved in a common rat bilateral posterolateral intertransverse spinal fusion SOP used to test the efficacy and safety different orthobiologics using a collagen-soaked sponge as an orthobiologic carrier. Only two orthobiologics are currently FDA approved for spinal fusion surgery which include recombinant bone morphogenetic protein 2 (rhBMP-2), and I-FACTOR. While there are many additional orthobiologics currently being tested, one way to show their safety profile and gain FDA approval, is to use well established preclinical animal models. A preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative surgical setup including specific anesthesia and euthanasia protocols are outlined. Furthermore, we describe different postoperative methods used to validate the spinal fusion SOP, which include μCT analysis, histopathology, biomechanical testing, and blood analysis. This SOP can help increase validity, transparency, efficacy, and reproducibly in future rat spinal fusion surgery procedures.

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