“More and more studies are showing the benefit of stem cell therapy in treating patients with disc injuries. It is very exciting to see evidences that indicate we can actually regrow discs that have been injured.”
-Dr. Damon Noto
More than 300,000 patients with spinal disc injuries undergo surgery each year. A preclinical study, conducted by Cytori Therapeutics Inc. in 2009, strongly suggests that stem cells from the body’s own fat can facilitate the repair of damaged intervertebral discs.
The study was presented at a meeting of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society. Twelve large animals, each with injuries to three lumbar discs, were randomly devided into three groups. Six weeks post injury, the first group received adipose (fat)-derived stem and regenerative cells (ADRCs), drawn from each animal’s own fatty tissue, in a carrier of hyaluronic acid (HA). The second group received hyaluronic acid alone. The last group received no treatment at all. The damaged lumbar discs were evaluated at 6 and 12 months following treatment. The ADRC-treated discs showed significantly improved disc tissue density, matrix hydration and levels of the disc-specific extracellular matrix proteins known as aggrecan and type II collagen.
The researchers also found healthy ADRCs within the discs, indicaing there’s a link between the presence of the transplanted cells and disc repair. In addition, all ADRC treatments were well tolerated, evidenced by no inflammation within the disc space.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the clinical trials of stem cell therapy on human subjects in 2009. If clinical studies bear out the results of this research, it could represent a real breakthrough for patients suffering from spinal disc injury.
To read the research publication, please click here.