Treatment: stem cell injection against back pain – Science.ORF.at

Stinging, tightening, or even radiating pain; Many people experience back pain in the course of their lives and their quality of life is sometimes severely restricted. Whether it is age related or a result of an injury, back pain is most common in Austria Most often it is given as a reason for chronic complaints. Even among the young, about ten percent are affected, and more than a third in the elderly.

In order to relieve the pain, it is recommended to take physical therapy and exercise first Gregor Kinbatcher, Member of the Board of Directors of the Austrian Pain Society and Medical Director of the Theresienhof Orthopedics and Orthopedic Rehabilitation Clinic in Frohnleiten. The muscles of the back and abdomen as well as the pelvic floor should be strengthened and the spine should be better stable. If this is no longer helpful, then an operation may be recommended in some cases. In order to avoid access to the scalpel, scientists in the United States are currently looking at stem cells for their efficacy.

Intervertebral disc regeneration

Disc degeneration often occurs, especially when there is pain in the lower back. What’s called Intermediate progenitor cells So it is inserted directly into the cartilage tissue of these intervertebral discs, where they develop into the chondrocytes themselves, ”Kienbacher explains. Once the cells are introduced, they release anti-inflammatory messengers and are thus particularly effective against pain.

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For the first time, a new treatment can regenerate damaged disc tissue and restore damaged cartilage function, says Kinbacher: The second stage – a study From the USA and Australia they actually showed a significant reduction in pain intensity and an improvement in quality of life for up to three years after treatment. ”

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Six million cells

For treatment, six million stem cells are inserted into a patient’s intervertebral discs. “All you need is one injection,” explains the orthopedic surgeon. Primary cells for treatment are obtained from the bone marrow of a healthy donor. It grows under certain laboratory conditions, and is modified in such a way that it does not elicit an immune response in the recipient.

One is currently running Phase 3 follow-up studyThe efficacy and safety of stem cell therapy is now being tested on about 400 test subjects. “ Kienbacher is optimistic and hopes that the Austrian patients will also be included in the next stage.

In the future: combination therapy

To support the transformation into cartilage tissue and the survival of the stem cells in place, the material also contains hyaluronic acid. In addition, the intervertebral disc should not be so degenerated that cells cannot escape from the cartilage tissue. Therefore, according to Kienbacher, chronic mild to moderate severe back pain will be treated with stem cells.

There is one thing that will remain important in the future: Even a new treatment must always be combined with other treatments. With stem cells, you may be able to control intervertebral disc degeneration and pain, but it is also important to develop the optimal corset. Sports and physical therapy are still essential for this, ”says Kienbacher, looking to the future.

In previous studies, infection at the injection site and worsening of back pain were reported as possible rare side effects. The study authors explained the fact that very few test subjects responded poorly to the treatment by the fact that in some cases the pain could be caused by several intervertebral discs, but so far only one spinal disc has been treated.

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