Fackson Mwale PhD, FIOR

Fackson Mwale PhD, FIOR
Fellow of International Orthopaedic Research (FIOR)


Professor, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery
Department of Surgery, McGill University

Graduate Program Director, Experimental Surgery
Department of Surgery, McGill University

Co-Director Surgical Innovation
Course director of non thesis
Course director of Medical Technology Internship
Senior Investigator, Lady Davis Institute

Area of Research: Orthopaedic Surgery

Contact Information:

fmwale [at] ldi.jgh.mcgill.ca (Email)

Tel: 514-340-8222, ext. 2948

Recent Publications:

Publications indexed on PubMed

Research Interests:

Tissue Engineering of Intervertebral Disc & Cartilage:
Dr. Mwale’s lab conducts cutting-edge research on tissue engineering of IVD. The long-term goal is to promote nucleus pulposus repair using growth factors, scaffolds and mesenchymal stem cells in the degenerated IVD. Dr. Mwale’s laboratory is also studying quantitative MRI as a diagnostic tool of IVD matrix composition and integrity. Quantitative MRI can be used as an accurate and non-invasive diagnostic tool in the detection and quantification of matrix composition and material properties of the human IVD and can, therefore, become a very important diagnostic and treatment assessment tool in determining the functional state of the disc. 

Summary of Work:

The therapeutic potential of Link-N to Treat Early Intervertebral Disc Degeneration:
Intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration is an insidious disorder that begins early in adult life and may progress slowly for decades until becoming symptomatic and requiring medical intervention. There are currently no proven treatments to prevent, stop or even retard disc degeneration, and surgery is often the ultimate outcome. Surgery commonly involves excision of the degenerate disc and fusion of the adjacent vertebrae, but this is not a benign procedure as it can result in adjacent segment disc degeneration due to altered spine biomechanics. A biological means to treat disc degeneration is therefore desirable. Supplementation with growth factors to promote matrix synthesis, with or without concurrent supplementation by disc cells or stem cells, represents the most common biological approach. However, growth factor therapy is expensive and side effects are likely with systemic administration.

We showed that Link N can stimulate the synthesis of proteoglycans and collagen by IVD cells in vitro and in vivo in a rabbit annular needle puncture model of IVD degeneration (Mwale et al., 2011). Following needle puncture, disc degeneration rapidly proceeds, associated with aggrecan loss in the disc and a reduction in disc height. Link N was capable of stimulating aggrecan gene expression and down-regulate metalloproteinase expression it was not sufficient time for matrix accumulation.

Dr. Mwale received the Founders Medal at the 2011, Canadian Orthopaedic Research Society (CORS) meeting in St. John’s Newfoundland and the 2011 North American Spine Society award in Chicago. It was the first time a peptide had been shown to have potential for treating disc degeneration circumventing the use of costly growth factors.


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