Research in the Setton laboratory focuses on understanding the mechanisms for degeneration and regeneration of soft tissues of the musculoskeletal system, particularly the intervertebral disc. Studies from the laboratory have demonstrated the presence of inflammatory cell infiltrates in degenerative disc tissues that are major producers of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Associated neuro-inflammation in intervertebral disc herniation and related disc disorders has been shown to contribute to dorsal root ganglion injury and pain generation in rodent models. A major focus of the laboratory has been the development of injectable, in situ forming hydrogels for sustained release of inflammatory antagonists in the perineural space. More recently, genome editing is being developed to regulate inflammatory cytokine activity in target cells.
Research in the laboratory has been funded through grants from the NIH, NSF, Whitaker Foundation, Coulter Foundation, OREF, AO Foundation, and North Carolina Biotechnology Center and research agreements with many corporations.