Stem Cell Treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease

Stem Cell Treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease

Degeneration of the intervertebral disc, often called "degenerative disc disease" (DDD) of the spine, is a condition that can be painful and can greatly affect the quality of one's life.


While disc degeneration is a normal part of aging and for most people is not a problem, for certain individuals a degenerated disc can cause severe constant chronic pain. Often, degenerative disc disease can be successfully treated without surgery. One or a combination of treatments such as physical therapy, chiropractic manipulative therapy (CMT) and other chiropractic treatments, osteopathic manipulation, anti-inflammatory medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, traction, or spinal injections often provide adequate relief of these troubling symptoms.

Degenerative discs typically show degenerative fibrocartilage and clusters of chondrocytes, suggestive of repair. Inflammation may or may not be present. Histologic examination of disc fragments resected for presumed DDD is routine to exclude malignancy.

Fibrocartilage replaces the gelatinous mucoid material of the nucleus pulposus as the disc changes with age. There may be splits in the annulus fibrosis, permitting herniation of elements of nucleus pulposus. There may also be shrinkage of the nucleus pulposus that produces prolapse of the annulus with secondary osteophyte formation at the margins of the adjacent vertebral body.

The pathologic findings in DDD include protrusion, spondylolysis, and/or subluxation of vertebrae (sponylolisthesis) and spinal stenosis.


Stem Cell Treatment and Degenerative Disc Disease NIH Streaming Database

Related Articles Advancing cell therapies for intervertebral disc regeneration from the lab to the clinic: Recommendations of the ORS spine section. JOR Spine. 2018 Dec;1(4):e1036 Authors: Smith LJ, Silverman L, Sakai D, Le Maitre CL, Mauck RL, Malhotra NR, Lotz JC, Buckley CT Abstract Intervertebral disc degeneration is strongly associated with chronic low back pain, a leading cause of disability worldwide. Current back pain treatment approaches (both surgical and conservative) are limited to addressing symptoms, not necessarily the root cause. Not surprisingly therefore, long-term efficacy of most approaches is poor. Cell-based disc regeneration strategies have shown promise in preclinical studies, and represent a relatively low-risk, low-cost, and durable therapeutic approach suitable for a potentially large patient population, thus making them attractive from both clinical and commercial standpoints. Despite such promise, no such therapies have been broadly adopted clinically. In this perspective we highlight primary obstacles and provide recommendations to help accelerate successful clinical translation of cell-based disc regeneration therapies. The key areas addressed include: (a) Optimizing cell sources and delivery techniques; (b) Minimizing potential risks to patients; (c) Selecting physiologically and clinically relevant efficacy metrics; (d) Maximizing commercial potential; and (e) Recognizing the importance of multidisciplinary collaborations and engaging with clinicians from inception through to clinical trials. PMID: 30895277 [PubMed]

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