Producing cells for repairing damaged shock absorber discs in the spine

Disease - IVD degeneration, back pain

Lead applicant - Dr Stephen Michael Richardson

Organisation - University of Manchester

Type of grant - Project Grant

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £238,048.47

Start date - 13 June 2016

Reference - 21165

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

This study will investigate a special group of cells known as notochordal cells, which are responsible for making the intervertebral discs located between individual vertebrae, which acting as shock absorbers in the spine. The research team will then attempt to use stem cells to repair damaged intervertebral discs.

Why is this research important?

Notochordal cells are essential for maintaining healthy intervertebral discs and their loss during childhood is linked to disc deterioration, which is a leading cause of back pain.

Current treatments available to treat disc degeneration do not work well long-term and therefore new treatment options are needed. Generating notochordal cells from stem cells will allow researchers to study the role of notochordal cells in the intervertebral disc and may lead to the identification of new targets for the treatment of disc deterioration and back pain.

How will the findings benefit patients?

By using stem cells formed from the patient's own cells, when they are transplanted back into the patient to repair the intervertebral disc, there less chance of complications and the body rejecting the treatment.

This potential approach could revolutionise current treatment of back pain and lead to a long term solution for patients, improving their quality of life.