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A page of hope

firewater1981ffirewater1981 Posts: 84
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:50 AM in Chronic Pain
=D> 8> >:D<
Hello everyone. I like you suffer from chronic pain. I have 5 herniated and degenerated discs. Im not going to spend a lot of time explaining who I am and how much I suffer. If you would like to know more about me then you can read my previous posts and introduction on this site. Im going to spend this time to give you some hope. This disease/injury has caused me to spend most of my time bedridden so I have a lot of time on my hands. One of the biggest things I do is research new approaches/discoveries that MAY benefit us spineys and could potentially get us out of our pain and disability. These are articles I have found over time to give hope in the advancements of treating DDD and herniated discs and the chronic pain and disability it causes us. I have a word document on my computer and every time I come across an article regarding this subject I paste the link in the document. This is the compilation I have come up with so far. I’d like this to be a page people go to regularly for hope. I would like for others to post things they have found as they find them beneath my post in the replies section. My hope is to give you hope. It is also for me not to lose hope. We are not alone!

Researchers growing new discs from scratch
NFL Charities Funds Research to Grow Living Bioengineered Discs to Treat Spinal Degeneration

Vertebral disc regeneration
Mesoblast: Disc Regrowth

=D> 8> >:D<


Some of the links originally provided in this initial post have been quoted as their own post. I would like to take a moment to warn anyone posting other links in this thread to take the time to review for copyright infringements and whether the linked site has advertising on it. It has been a long standing policy to take down links that have advertising on it. When in doubt, the link can be forwarded to us so we can review it and determine if it can stand on its own.

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Post Edited by Administrator Dave


  • Mail Online (NEWS) said:

    World's first 'spinal transplant' carried out
    by Jenny Hope
    March 22, 2007

    Victims of chronic back pain were offered fresh hope with news of successful 'spinal transplant' surgery.

    Spinal discs from accident victims were transplanted into patients with disc degeneration in the cervical spine, the area nearest the neck.

    All reported improvements in their mobility and a reduction in symptoms such as weakness of the legs and bladder.

    A report in The Lancet says the pioneering treatment, carried out in China, offers hope for thousands of sufferers of severe disc problems, particularly young people.

    They often cannot be helped by existing treatments such as spinal fusion - which surgically joins bones in the spine, making them rigid - or artificial material to replace the defective discs.

    In some cases these methods cause further degeneration of the discs above and below the area most affected.

    Although disc transplants have been carried out in primates, it is the first time doctors have reported such surgery in humans.

    The discs, known as the shock absorbers of the spine, consist of cartilage that cushions the individual movements of vertebral bones.

    When the discs wear away or are damaged by disease, the bones press on nerves, which can cause pain and restrict movement.

    Degenerative disc disease can produce serious problems with balance and mobility as well as neurological problems such as loss of bladder control.

    Nia Taylor, chief executive of Back Care, said last night: 'It would be very interesting to read the full details because there are a minority of people for whom a problem with discs does not naturally get better.

    "Some suffer excruciating pain and we would welcome any new treatment that can help."

    The disc transplants were carried out by doctors at the Navy General Hospital, Beijing, and the University of Hong Kong.

    They used 13 discs taken from women between 20 and 30. The discs were frozen and thawed out prior to transplant into a woman and four men aged 41 to 56.

    Within three months the donor discs had successfully bedded in with existing spinal disc tissue.

    Now, five years later, all the patients still show improvement and none has rejected the donor material. Surgeon

    Dike Ruan said there were some signs of mild disc degeneration but the spinal area involved remained mobile.

    He said: "With further refinements, such transplants could be an effective treatment for degenerative disc disease."

    But Dr Ruan admitted it would be a "challenge" to extend the technique-to the lower spine - where the majority of disc problems occur - because of anatomical problems and the immense loading pressures on this area.

    Since the first patients were given transplants, the team has treated another group using modified techniques.
  • Science Daily said:

    Busted Spine-Discs? Researchers Are Growing New Ones, Bioengineering Intervertebral Discs
    Jan 18, 2009

    Each year, 40 to 60 percent of American adults suffer from chronic back pain. For patients diagnosed with severe degenerative disc disease, neurosurgeons must perform surgery called discectomy — removing the IVD — followed by a fusion of the vertebrate bones to stabilize the spine. Even after all that effort, the patient's back will likely not feel the same as before their injury.

    But collaboration between physician-scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College and basic science researchers at Cornell University has led to the creation of bioengineered IVDs, in the laboratory, for transplantation into the spines of rats.

    To create new spine discs, Dr. Roger Härtl and Dr. Lawrence Bonassar are using cells from IVD tissue of human patients who have had their spinal discs removed. Dr. Härtl is a noted neurological surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and the Leonard and Fleur Harlan Clinical Scholar and assistant professor of neurological surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Dr. Bonassar is an associate professor in the departments of biomedical engineering and mechanical and aerospace engineering at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

    Dr. Härtl harvests tissue from the removed discs and sends it to Dr. Bonassar. Cells are then isolated from this tissue and grown in an incubator that simulates the environment in the body. Once developed, they are placed on a bioengineered scaffold, enabling the assembly of the cells and scaffold into an IVD-shaped implant. The research team then surgically implants the discs inside a rat's spine in order to see how the tissue reacts to the mechanical and biological demands. So far, results are promising. The researchers hope to soon test the bioengineered discs in human subjects in a clinical trial, so that someday people can receive spare parts for their aging or injured backs.
  • Science Daily said:

    Stem Cell Therapy: A Future Treatment for Lower Back Pain?
    Nov 29, 2010

    Lower back pain affects many people and may be caused by degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae. Treatment for the condition using stem cells may be an alternative to today's surgical procedures. This is the conclusion of a thesis presented at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

    The cells in a degenerated intervertebral disc (which are mainly made of cartilage) no longer work normally. This leads to the disc drying out, which impairs its function and leads to lower back pain.

    "It is generally believed that cartilage has no, or very little, capacity to heal, and knowledge about how cell division takes place in intervertebral discs is limited," says scientist Helena Barreto-Henriksson of the Institute of Clinical Sciences and the Institute of Biomedicine at the Sahlgrenska Academy.

    The thesis describes how the scientists have studied cell division in the disc, and the possibility of influencing the disc through cell transplantation. In animal studies and in studies of human discs removed during surgery, they have identified areas in the periphery of the disc in which the cells have properties similar to those of stem cells. The cells probably contribute to the growth of new cells, and provide the disc with a certain capacity to self-heal.

    The scientists have also investigated the possibility of transplanting cells to a disc by injecting human stem cells into damaged discs in an animal model.

    "Images taken by MRI showed that the transplanted stem cells survived, that they developed into cells that had a function similar to that of disc cells, and that there was a certain degree of healing in the disc," says Helena Barreto-Henriksson.

    The results will stimulate further studies about whether it is possible to restore an intervertebral disc, or prevent its further degeneration, using biological treatments. One possible strategy is to stimulate the existing stem cells in the neighbourhood, while another is to develop methods for cell transplantation in patients, using the patient's own stem cells from the bone marrow.

    "The advantage of such treatment over today's surgical approaches is that it would be a much simpler and less serious procedure for the patient," points out Helena Barreto-Henriksson.

    Disc Degeneration

    Disc degeneration is a change in the properties of intervertebral discs (which are mainly made of cartilage) that leads to the risk of them becoming too thin. The condition is common among older people and may lead to the displacement of a vertebra and contribute to a constriction in the spinal cord, known as spinal stenosis. It may also arise in younger people and in the middle-aged, and is then considered to be a significant underlying cause of severe and chronic lower back pain.
  • Science Daily said:

    Surprising Find May Yield New Avenue of Treatment for Painful Herniated Discs
    Jun 29, 2010

    An immune cell known to cause chronic inflammation in autoimmune disorders has been identified as a possible culprit in low back pain associated with herniated discs, according to doctors at Duke University Medical Center.

    The finding implicates the cytokine molecule interleukin-17, and supports the burgeoning theory that an immune response plays a significant role in disc disease, says William J. Richardson, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Duke. It may also open the door for new, therapeutic approaches that target a specific immune response in hopes of halting disc destruction, and possibly reversing the disease process.

    "By identifying the specific subpopulation of lymphocytes (immune cells that are excited into action by the cytokine), it may soon be possible to arrest the body's inflammatory response to disc cells," says Richardson, senior author of the research published online in the July issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism. Doing so could reduce the painful inflammation associated with degenerative disc disease, and halt the evolution of arthritis. It may also reduce the need for back surgery.

    "Mechanical forces may initiate the degenerative process, but biochemical inflammatory changes certainly play a role in disc pathology," says the study's first author, Mohammed Shamji, MD, PhD, senior neurosurgery resident at The Ottawa Hospital, Ontario, Canada, who participated in the research while at Duke. Decreasing the inflammation may arrest or reverse the patient's disease process and perhaps reduce the need for surgery. "Now we are learning which pathways we have to block."

    Low back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical care, and both degenerative and herniated discs -- also referred to as slipped discs or ruptured discs -- are common causes of that pain. The economic impact of medical care for herniated discs in the U.S. is estimated to be as high as $200 billion per year.

    Herniated discs occur when the tough outer layer of cartilage cracks, allowing pieces of the softer inner material to protrude into the spinal canal. Until recently, it was thought that pain occurs when the material touches a nerve. Now doctors believe the pain is the result of an immune response caused by the presence of inflammatory cells.

    "The center of the disc is immune-privileged since it has never been exposed to the immune system," says Shamji. When a disc is injured or degenerates, the body reacts against the invading inner material as it would against any virus or foreign body, and launches a response targeted at destruction. The nerve root, which is present near the protruding disc material, becomes painfully inflamed, swollen and damaged during that cascade of events.

    In recent years, several anti-immune therapies, including steroids, have been injected into the space between the disc and the nerve, but with limited success, doctors say, because they don't target a specific immune response, and because low doses are used to minimize potentially serious side effects that include a higher predisposition to infection, activation of tuberculosis and a six-fold increase in lymphoma incidence.

    The identification of IL-17 in the cascade of events is significant, Shamji says. "It's a product of a specific subgroup of immune cells that are involved in auto immune phenomena like rheumatoid arthritis and asthma, but not in the body's response against infection or tumor. If you target this specific lymphocyte, you may avoid compromising the body's ability to protect itself against infection or tumor."

    Researchers say they're still several steps away from human studies of IL-17 blockers currently in development.
  • Thanks again for the posts of the content I shared Dave. This gets the jist of what I was sharing without any advertisements showing on the sides of these articles. If anyone wants the links to this content please IM me and I will share. It is some pretty exciting stuff. Maybe not the future for us spineys but hopefully so. Also let me know of any interesting topics/discoveries that can help us with herniated and degenerated discs.

  • Very good information - Thank you :)
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • Another excellent resource provided by Spine Health is the News section of the site by clicking on the Resources option on the menu bar at the top of the page and selecting Pain News.

    Articles of interest cover topics such as: Take the time to peruse the site.

  • And interesting subject about blocking the pain generators cytokine. I would be interested in studies of IL-17 blockers. Thanks for the articles.
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • "The identification of IL-17 in the cascade of events is significant, Shamji says. "It's a product of a specific subgroup of immune cells that are involved in auto immune phenomena like rheumatoid arthritis and asthma, but not in the body's response against infection or tumor. If you target this specific lymphocyte, you may avoid compromising the body's ability to protect itself against infection or tumor."

    Researchers say they're still several steps away from human studies of IL-17 blockers currently in development." (end quote, from post no 4)

    i would like to see the further research on this.

    thanks for the info

    Flower( ill be a guinea pig)

  • Just found this article while searching pub med.
    Basically it’s the first article I came across where they used stem cells to repair HUMAN intervertebral discs (not animal) from degenerative disc disease and herniations and they were successful! 2 Years post op and the patients symptoms are still gone! I know companies have been talking about doing this for a while but I have not heard any scientific evidence supporting it. I have heard testimonies from people who say the have underwent this type of procedure before but that is always open to interpretation and the “placebo effect”. This is the first peer reviewed scientific article I have come across where they actually performed the stem cell treatment on humans and documented the results and with good results. Granted the study was only done with two people but it is a start.

    This report was published May 2010. Please tell me why us spine disease sufferers and those of us that suffer tremendously daily have not heard about these trials and the outcome of it?!

    I pasted the article in its entirety for you to read below. You can go to the pub med site and read it for yourself if you would like. If you don’t read the whole article I posted just look at the parts I capitalized.

    Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2010 May 15;35(11):E475-80.

    Disc regeneration therapy using marrow mesenchymal cell transplantation: a report of two case studies.
    Yoshikawa T, Ueda Y, Miyazaki K, Koizumi M, Takakura Y.

    Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Koriyama-Seiran Hospital, 1-1 Honjo, Yamato-koriyama, Nara, Japan. t-yoshikawa.seiran.or.jp

    STUDY DESIGN: Marrow mesenchymal cells (MSCs) contain stem cells and possess the ability to regenerate bone, cartilage, and fibrous tissues. Here, we applied this regenerative ability to intervertebral disc regeneration therapy in an attempt to develop a new spinal surgery technique.

    OBJECTIVE: We analyzed the regenerative restoration ability of autologous MSCs in the markedly degenerated intervertebral discs.

    SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Fusion for lumbar intervertebral disc instability improves lumbago. However, fused intervertebral discs lack the natural and physiologic functions of intervertebral discs. If intervertebral discs can be regenerated and repaired, then damage to adjacent intervertebral discs can be avoided. We verified the regenerative ability of MSCs by animal studies, and FOR THE FIRST TIME, PERFORMED THERAPEUTIC INTERVEBRAL DISC REGENERATION THERAPY IN PATIENTS AND OBTAINED FAVORABLE FINDINGS.

    METHODS: Subjects were 2 WOMEN aged 70 and 67 years; both patients had lumbago, leg pain, and numbness. Myelography and magnetic resonance imaging showed lumbar spinal canal stenosis, and radiograph confirmed the vacuum phenomenon with instability. From the ilium of each patient, marrow fluid was collected, and MSCs were cultured using the medium containing autogenous serum. In surgery, fenestration was performed on the stenosed spinal canal and then pieces of collagen sponge containing autologous MSCs were grafted percutaneously to degenerated intervertebral discs.

    RESULTS: AT 2 YEARS AFTER SURGERY, radiograph and computed tomography showed improvements in the vacuum phenomenon in both patients. On T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging, signal intensity of intervertebral discs with cell grafts was high, thus indicating high moisture contents. Roentgenkymography showed that lumbar disc instability improved. SYMPTOM WAS ALLEVIATED IN BOTH PATIENTS.

    CONCLUSION: The intervertebral disc regeneration therapy using MSC brought about FAVORABLE results in these 2 cases. IT SEEMS TO BE A PROMISING MINIMALLY INVASIVE TREATMENT.

    I can only hope this is the future!!!
    Its time for outdated, antiquated, damaging (almost barbaric) spinal fusion surgery to go.


  • I do appreciate the reinstallment of the content. My issues related to severe stenosis and Degen. I have been told I could use a new spine.

    Since the body really does a restoration each 7 to 10 years, replacing the calcium in the body, piece by piece, the latest research intrigues me.

    Chat Later =- off to read
  • I do appreciate the reinstallment of the content. My issues related to severe stenosis and Degen. I have been told I could use a new spine.

    Since the body really does a restoration each 7 to 10 years, replacing the calcium in the body, piece by piece, the latest research intrigues me.

    Chat Later =- off to read
  • Thanks Firewater for starting this thread. Hope is much needed in situations with the spine. I read ScienceDaily on pretty much a "daily" basis hoping for new advances. I wish these advances could come sooner.

    Have any of you seen the stem cell study that a university in california, and throughout the US, is about to start? They are recruiting people for clinical trials as we speak. It is for lumbar though and my situation is cervical. Still, it brings hope.

    How is your situation since February 2011. Have you improved any?
  • He actually had spinal fusion last fall and tho he is still having some issues, I think he is doing fairly well. That's probably why we haven't seen him here for a long time. Guess when they get better, they leave us :)
  • Marion, nice new hair Do! You cant answer your emails or what? =p


    There are a lot of studies going on with stem cells. In fact stem cells have already shown they can help the few people who have had them injected into them.


    Look into the company Mesoblast. They started clinical trials using stem cells to treat DDD back in September 2011.


    They have not published the 6 months results yet. Hopefully they will be as good as the human results received from the article in the link I posted above. Maybe it would do you some good to at least look into these clinical trials. Might be an option/open door for you.

    I really think, and hope stem cells (or some other form of treatment) will be the cure for all of you. I may need more intervention in the future so I hope this will be viable for me as well.

    Remember, even if stem cells and other treatment options do not pan out, surgery can be a successful option. Most impotantly listen to your heart and your doctor.

  • Im still here. Well rarely here. I still get email notifications when someone sends me a message or posts on a thread of mine. Its really the only time I come on. Maybe I need to change that.

    I find this page/site to be very scary and discouraging. Too many scare/horror/depressing stories. Scared the living #@#$ out of me when I was considering surgery. I guess its all the more reason why I should be here. I think....so far..... I am a success story! But you are right. People who get better usually do not come back to a site like this. They move on to the next chapter of their life (usually away from a site like this) and put the very scary chapter of pre-surgery behind them. Who wants to focus/remember/reminisc about the bad times in their lifes right? Especially if things are better. My point is, that just because you may not read about fusion or other surgery/options success stories on here (or elsewhere) does not mean they do not happen. I am proof that they can and that they do.

    I have been contemplating starting a new thread regarding this topic but I did not want to be premature. Yes I had a fusion surgery and yes, despite what most will probalby say on this site, it actually was a positive life changer. At least for me. Just rode my bike yesterday. No pain. First time in about a year and a half for riding my bike. Have been mostly pain free even shortly after surgery. Despite what I read on here the surgery itself was not as bad as I anticipated. Nor was the recovery. I am doing better then I thought and what I mostly read from others on here.

    Im not going to make this thread about me. Thats not why I started it. This particular thead was to provide hope through research and positive news. I guess my success with fusion surgery is postitive news but I will post more later and on a different thread.

    Thanks for encouraging me back to this site though. I want to be a light to people. Especially on a site (that I believe) to be full of fear, sorrow, suffering, pain, discouragement, anger and disappointment.

    Keep your head up! There are positive surgery stories out there! I am one of them! Remember, just because you may read few (or no) success stories on here does not mean they do not happen. Its just people usually move on with their life.

    There is also some amazing research/progress being done! I believe stuff will be coming our way shortly. Please do not be discouraged. There is hope for you!

  • An encouraging new update in regards to potentially repairing damaged intervertebral discs
    Hopefully the following articles will provide some encouragement to you.

    Stem cells where shown to be successful in repairing damaged intervertebral discs in animal models back in 2008:

    Stem cells shown to be effective in repairing damaged intervertebral discs in humans (two women) back in 2010:

    The intermediate results of a larger scale (Phase 2 - more people/humans) study (I copy and pasted this article – you can read this article and other for yourself on Mesoblast’s website):

    Intervertebral Disc Repair Phase 2 Trial Update

    Rapid Patient Accrual, Enrolment Reaches Half Way Mark

    Positive Preclinical Study Results Published in Premier Neurosurgical Journal
    Melbourne, Australia; 17 April 2012: Global regenerative medicine company Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB) today announced that its Phase 2 clinical trial investigating the use of allogeneic, or off-the-shelf, Mesenchymal Precursor Cells (MPCs) for non-surgical restoration of degenerated intervertebral discs and treatment of low back pain has enrolled 50% of the total study patients. This rapid rate of enrolment attests to the major unmet medical need and to the relative simplicity of Mesoblast’s non-surgical procedure. Mesoblast expects to complete full enrolment by early third quarter.
    Up to 15 per cent of people in industrialized countries have chronic low back pain lasting more than six months. For those with progressive, severe and debilitating pain due to degenerating intervertebral discs, the only current option is major back surgery involving spinal fusion, artificial disc replacement, or other surgical procedures. Avoidance of surgery and its complications is a major objective of any new treatment for degenerative disease of the spine.
    Mesoblast is developing a non-surgical adult stem cell treatment for these patients using a simple intervertebral disc injection of allogeneic MPCs that takes less than 15 minutes in an outpatient setting. The Phase 2 clinical trial design, endpoints and dose ranges are based on Mesoblast’s successful preclinical study using allogeneic sheep MPCs for non-surgical restoration of damaged intervertebral discs.
    Full results of Mesoblast’s successful study were published in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery, the premier peer-reviewed neurosurgical forum. The scientific publication, entitled “Immunoselected STRO-3+mesenchymal precursor cells and restoration of the extracellular matrix of degenerate intervertebral discs”, can be viewed at http://thejns.org/doi/full/10.3171/2012.1.SPINE11852
    The peer-reviewed publication showed that a single non-surgical injection of Mesoblast’s allogeneic MPCs into damaged intervertebral discs resulted in significant regeneration of disc anatomy, increase in proteoglycan content, and increase in disc height, for at least six months. The lowest dose of MPCs caused the damaged discs to become statistically equivalent to the non-degenerated normal control discs at six months when evaluated by MRI and histopathological analyses; in contrast, the degenerated discs treated with nothing or the carrier control remained statistically worse in each parameter tested than the non-degenerated normal control discs.
    Mesoblast’s double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 2 clinical trial is being conducted at 15 sites across the United States, and will randomize a total of 100 patients with intervertebral disc disease to receive a non-surgical, percutaneous injection into the intervertebral disc of either low or high dose MPCs with hyaluronic acid carrier, hyaluronic acid carrier alone or saline alone. The trial aims to extend Mesoblast’s preclinical results, and show that a single MPC injection can reduce low back pain and improve function over six months, improve disc anatomy, and eliminate the need for a surgical procedure.

    Current trials to get involved in regarding Stem cells to potentially treat damaged intevertebral discs causing low back pain:
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