Belfast researchers are developing a new "bone cement" which could give hope to spinal injury victims.
Burst spinal fractures often require highly complex and invasive surgery
Medical engineers at Queen's University believe the material could help those injured in car crashes for example.
The biological cements, designed to repair burst spinal fractures, are being developed and tested in a project between Queen's and Leeds University.
It is hoped use of the material would be much less invasive and reduce recovery times and NHS costs.
The team has been awarded almost £500,000 to develop and examine the effects of novel cement materials for the treatment of burst fractures.
Bone cements are already used to strengthen damaged vertebrae of patients with diseases such as osteoporosis.
However, burst spinal fractures often require highly complex and invasive surgery.
Dr Fraser Buchanan of QUB's School of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering said: "These materials can be delivered to the fracture site by injection and mimic the chemical composition of bone itself.
"Clearly we need to develop biomaterials that more closely match the properties of real bone and this project offers the perfect opportunity to use the range of complimentary skills of this grouping to predict the effects of newly developed cements and even incorporate biological agents to assist the body's own healing process.
"This study demonstrates the significant benefits of working in a multidisciplinary team within Queen's.
"In this case between the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the School of Medicine and Dentistry, to address issues relating to tissue repair and regeneration."