CORDIS - EU research results

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: a Perfect Storm of Functional Anatomy, Biomechanics and Mechanobiology during Growth?

Project description

Identifying the cause of AIS

Affecting up to 4 % of adolescents in Europe, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is the most common form of spinal deformity between the ages of 10 and 18. It's an abnormal curvature of the spine – instead of growing straight, the spine develops a rotation, usually in an elongated ‘S’ or ‘C’ shape. Although identified since the time of Hippocrates (400 BC), its cause is unknown and there is still no effective treatment. The ERC-funded ScoliStorm project will seek to identify the cause of AIS to prevent it or provide early treatment. Specifically, the project will investigate the complex perfect storm of anatomical, biomechanical and mechanobiological causes in the intervertebral disc and explore the disease’s mechanism.


Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is a 3D deformity of the spine affecting previously healthy children, substantially reducing their quality of life and creating a life-long burden of disease. Although it has been indentified since the time of Hippocrates (400 BC), we have not been able to rationally develop effective treatments and provide a cure for these children suffering from AIS because its cause and mechanism of disease are still unknown. ScoliStorm will create a paradigm shift in AIS research by uncovering its complex perfect storm of anatomical, biomechanical and mechanobiological causes in the intervertebral disc and exploring this disease mechanism whereby predictive triggers are identified that can be used for prevention and early treatment. We will study human subjects non-invasively through disease initiation and progression, creating for the first time a comprehensive dataset of healthy and scoliotic human spines that can be used for early detection and treatment of juvenile spine conditions. We will create safe non-radiographic accurate imaging of the osseous spine, available in most hospitals, which can become the standard for diagnosis and monitoring of osseous injury and disease in juveniles. We will develop high-throughput creation and use of subject specific in silico models, allowing simulation of organ and tissue function such that morphological imaging data can provide functional analysis of the patient for diagnosis and treatment. Mechanisms affecting tissue adaptation will be mapped and show that normal processes by their coincidence can create an aberrant response and disease, providing an explanation applicable for other multifactorial diseases. Thus, a unique dedicated and complete multidisciplinary process, combining 1) bioengineering analysis, exploiting imaging, in silico modeling, in vitro and ex vivo approaches in humans, and 2) clinical medicine, also applicable for exploring other multifactorial diseases, will be created.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 824 687,50
5612 AE Eindhoven

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Zuid-Nederland Noord-Brabant Zuidoost-Noord-Brabant
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 824 687,50

Beneficiaries (2)