Researches may have found a way to grow back a damaged spine.
This stem cell breakthrough could help people with severe back pain. Bad discs between vertebrae are a common cause of lower back pain and it was often thought near impossible for the discs which are cartilage to heal. However, Swedish researchers believe they have been able to grow human stem cells that would help a damaged disc to regenerate.
- Disc degeneration is a change in the properties of invertebrate discs, which are mainly made of cartilage, which leads to the risk of them becoming too thin. Degenerative discs are thought to be responsible for lower back pain as one vertebra rubs onto another. Back discs are generally thought to be unable to heal themselves;
- The research printed in the Cells, Tissues and Organs journal detailed how injecting human stem cells into a damaged animal’s back discs had led to the cartilage repairing itself.
Gothenburg University researcher Helena Barreto-Henriksson said her team had discovered areas in the discs that were similar to stem cells and may have the potential to grow back. ‘It is generally believed that cartilage has no, or very little, capacity to heal, and knowledge about how cell division takes place in invertebrate discs is limited;
- Images taken by MRI showed that the transplanted stem cells survived, developed into cells that had a function similar to that of disc cells and that there was a certain degree of healing in the disc;
- The procedure could be an alternative (in-time) to back surgery for chronic lower back pain;
- The advantage of such treatment over today’s surgical approaches is that it would be a much simpler and less serious procedure for the patient.