Regenerative medicine advocates a non-surgical approach to repairing degenerating spinal discs using the body’s own healing properties. Disc degeneration as one ages is fairly common but may lead to conditions such as chronic back pain, herniated discs, osteoarthritis, and spinal stenosis.
Through various cell therapies such as PRP treatment and Stem Cell Therapy, these conditions can possibly be reversed. The original method of injecting such regenerative cells was via a liquid solution but researchers found that many of the cells were leaking out of the joint and therefore, were useless.
In July 2013, Duke University Bioengineers discovered a better, more productive delivery system for cell therapy. This was to create a material that started off as a liquid but once injected into the damaged area became a gel.
What Duke researchers found was that this method helped stabilize the cells into the joint creating an environment that promoted the cell’s persistence in it’s regenerative healing capability.
NP cells are cells that provide reparative properties to the nucleus pulposus, the jelly-like cushion naturally found between spinal discs. The Duke researchers marked these cells with a bioluminescent luciferase to track the location of the various NP cells. They then injected these cells into the tails of rats just as a doctor may deliver the cells to patients and found that the solution began to solidify after only five minutes and was completely set after twenty.
The images presented by the biomarkers indicated that after 14 days, more cells remained in place with the new gel-like biomaterial versus the liquid version and hence since then, this biomaterial has been used in cell therapy.
These results have had an extremely positive effect on the future of cell therapy because the gel-like substance is able to provide a matrix that can support tissue growth and regeneration. Because this creates an environment and structure where new and healthy tissue may form, today we use this biomaterial when treating patients.
The Duke University Bioengineers, like Aubrey Francisco and Lori Setton, involved in the research proved a better delivery system for cell therapy. In our office, the Spine & Joint Center located in Bergen County, New Jersey, we hope in the near future to use such gel-like biomaterial to deliver massive amounts of growth factors and stem cells with regenerative capability to injured areas of the body.
If you have chronic muscle pain, osteoarthritis, tendonitis, ligament and muscle tears, or nerve injuries, we at the Spine and Joint Center may be able to help you prevent surgery using the advancements in regenerative medicine.