Hernias of intervertebral discs is one of the most urgent problems of modern vertebrology, effective solution for which will have not only medical but also economic impact, since discopathy often affects people of working age.
Intervertebral discs are a relatively soft tissue, which serves as a cushion for the vertebrae and allows our spine to change its position for daily movements. With age, discs get worn, and this leads to pinching nerves. The degeneration of the intervertebral discs is the main cause of back pain. Actually doctors do not have methods for the repair of damaged intervertebral discs, and drug and surgical treatment of discopathy do not always provide the desired therapeutic effect.
However, recently, scientists from the University of Pennsylvania (USA) in the journal Science Translational Medicine reported that they had successfully grown the intervertebral discs from stem cells and implanted them to the goats. Goats were chosen for the experiments, because the intervertebral discs of goats due to their size, structure and function are very similar to human ones. A magnetic resonance tomography conducted in 8 weeks showed that the implanted discs, grown from stem cells, were functioning the same or better than the own discs. After 20 weeks, implanted discs, grown from stem cells, were taken and fused with the own tissues.
This important achievement of American scientists may change the approaches to the treatment of discopathy in the near future.
In Ukraine, the Institute of Cell Therapy has developed a therapy for intervertebral discs herniation using own cultivated chondrocytes (cartilage cells). This method of treatment is already tested in clinical trials and was recognized by the Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine as the best research project of 2015.