Stem cell treatment for low back pain

Scientists are predicting that they may soon be able to transform the treatment of low back pain by using stem cells taken from bone marrow to repair worn discs in the spine.

A team from Manchester University’s Tissue Injury and Repair Group has been awarded funding of £164,406 over three years by the Arthritis Research Campaign to find new ways of regenerating worn discs by implanting conditioned stem cells to repair the damage.

If the research goes to plan, it is hoped the treatment could be carried out on patients with low back pain within five to 10 years.

Lead researcher professor Judith Hoyland said: “It is possible to take stem cells from bone marrow and develop them into the kind of cells that are produced in intervertebral discs, and we are now looking at the factors that are necessary for this to happen – such as growth factors, a low oxygen environment and mechanical load – all factors that cells would be exposed to inside an intervertebral disc in the body.”

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