Stem Cell Cure Hope For Back Pain

Stem Cell Research Trial for Back Pain

Stem Cells Diagram

Stem Cells Diagram

Note: This Story was originally published by BBC News In November 2006

A patient’s own stem cells could soon be used to cure chronic back pain, say researchers.
The team from the University of Manchester hope their treatment will be available within three years.

They are perfecting a way to rebuild the soft shock-absorbing discs which separate the vertebrae in the spine.

Damage to these intervertebral discs (IVDs) is a common cause of debilitating low back pain which affects around 12 million in the UK. A treatment which effectively cured the problem could potentially save the UK economy as much as £5 billion a year.

The new therapy, developed by Dr Stephen Richardson, uses mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from adult bone marrow to regenerate spinal discs. MSCs are a class of stem cell which can grow into many different cell types, including bone, cartilage, fat and muscle.

Dr Richardson has succeeded in turning MSCs into the cells which make up the gel-like nucleus pulposus (NP) tissue separating the vertebrae. He plans to begin pre-clinical trials next year, with full patient trials to follow on.  Dr Richardson said: “Once we have extracted the bone marrow from the patient and have purified the MSCs, they will be grown in culture and our patented method of differentiation will be applied.

“They will then be embedded within a gel which can be implanted back into the patient.” No rejection

Since the stem cells are taken from the patient’s own body, there is no chance of them being rejected by the immune system.

The gel is based on a natural collagen similar to one already used for the treatment of cartilage defects.

It is implanted using an arthroscope, a thin tube device slipped through a small incision in the back. Dr Richardson said there was no reason why a patient should not return home on the same day as the procedure, or the day after.

He said: “Once implanted, the differentiated MSCs would produce a new NP tissue with the same properties as the original and would both treat the underlying cause of the disease and remove the painful symptoms.”

Currently, low back pain is treated with a combination of painkillers, physiotherapy or surgery. In severe cases tissue is removed to relieve the pain, or vertebrae fused together.

However, success is limited, and these techniques do not solve the root cause of the problem.

Dries Hettinga, research and information manager at the charity BackCare, said: “This is a really exciting area of research and although it is still early days, the initial results look very promising.”

Posted by on Oct 6th, 2008 and filed under Back Pain. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

2 Responses for “Stem Cell Cure Hope For Back Pain”

  1. Richard Minster says:

    Is there any chance of enrolling in the clinical studies program? I have a half dozen Bulging Disks some with as much as 90% loss in height and I’m only 38 years old. There are times that I can barely move. I used to be very athletic and now I have trouble with walking sometimes.
    I hope this becomes available soon….

    • admin says:

      To get into clinical trial studies you have to apply directly with the Physician or Clinic doing the study. Often the candidates they are seeking fall within a very narrow spectrum. With your magnitude of symptoms and levels it is highly unlikely they would accept you into any study. You find out about Clinical Trials through the FDA or through a local Physician. This Stem Cell Study started in 2006, and I have not seen any breakthrough work published as a result. Fortunately the Bush Admins stance on Stem Cell Research has been lifted to a great extent (Still needs more funding) so there is additional hope.

      Your best bet is to research online well known physicians/surgeons who are at the forefront of ADR (Artificial Disc Replacement) Technologies and book an appointment. This almost always involves travel to another State (Or Country) unless you are extremely lucky and live near one of the few experts. While Back Pain is a huge problem, and there are tons of Pain Management Doctors, there are very few who can accurately diagnose the true CAUSE. And to further complicate the problem insurance companies will fight you every step of the way. I can highly recommend you look into some kind of Auqa Therapy and Inversion Table Therapy. A major contributor to chronic pain occurs when you stop using the muscles because of the pain. It’s a vicious cycle or “Catch 22″… so any passive motion exercise you can do to keep the muscles working will benefit you both short and long term.

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