Biologic Therapies for Aging Discs Somerville MA

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Brian J Awbrey MD
(617) 726-3808
151 Merrimac St
Boston, MA
Specialties
Orthopedics

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Brian John Jolley, MD
(781) 744-8997
1493 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA
Specialties
Orthopedics
Gender
Male
Education
Medical School: Boston Univ Sch Of Med, Boston Ma 02118
Graduation Year: 1989

Data Provided By:
William Lipman
(617) 591-4600
1493 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA
Specialty
Orthopedic Surgery

Data Provided By:
Byron Vartan Hartunian
(617) 864-5700
777 Concord Ave
Cambridge, MA
Specialty
Orthopedic Surgery

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Leo Joseph Troy
(617) 491-6766
300 Mount Auburn St
Cambridge, MA
Specialty
Orthopedic Surgery

Data Provided By:
Lawrence Ira Karlin, MD
(617) 355-6021
300 Longwood Ave
Boston, MA
Business
Children's Hospital Boston Orthopaedic Surger
Specialties
Orthopedics

Data Provided By:
James Allan Karlson
(617) 491-6766
300 Mount Auburn St
Cambridge, MA
Specialty
Orthopedic Surgery

Data Provided By:
Gerald Gary Steinberg, MD
(508) 856-2336
1493 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA
Specialties
Orthopedics
Gender
Male
Education
Medical School: A Einstein Coll Of Med Of Yeshiva Univ, Bronx Ny 10461
Graduation Year: 1969

Data Provided By:
Anne Holland Johnson
(917) 538-4656
330 Mount Auburn St
Cambridge, MA
Specialty
Foot & Ankle Surgery

Data Provided By:
James Edward Phillips
(617) 491-6766
300 Mount Auburn St
Cambridge, MA
Specialty
Orthopedic Surgery

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Biologic Therapies for Aging Discs

The lines and wrinkles on our faces aren't the only signs of the inevitable aging process. Progressive degenerative changes have also been documented in the spine. One of the areas of great interest is the intervertebral disc . New biologic therapies for aging discs are the subject of this review article on the topic.

There are 33 vertebrae or spinal bones. Between each vertebra is a disc made of tough cartilage with a fluid center. These discs provide the cushion that allows your backbone to bend and twist. Discs also act like shock absorbers as we walk, run, and jump. Each vertebral segment consists of bone next to bone with a cartilage cushion between. They are tied together with connective tissue, ligaments, and tendons.

Degenerative disc disease is an example of something that affects most people as they get older. Everyone is going to have a certain amount of damage to the spine. This occurs throughout a lifetime. The discs can flatten, and protrude from between the bones. In time, most people will have small tears in the outer layers of these discs.

Finding ways to repair damage to the discs is the focus of many research studies. One of the most recent directions in research has been the use of biologic therapies to restore the disc. Examples of these treatment approaches include disc cell reimplantation, stem cell implantation, disc denervation, injection of therapeutic proteins, and gene therapy.

What are these therapies and how do they work? Biologic therapies of this type are meant to help at the cellular level. Scientists have shown that inside the cells of the disc there is a limited amount of blood flow. As a result, there are waste products building up. The cell becomes very acidic and that is a harsh environment that doesn't support cell health very well.

As we age, there are fewer new cells to replace the old. Fluid leaks out of the discs that never gets replaced. We start to lose the strength of the discs needed to cushion and support the spine. A loss of disc height can lead to disc space collapse.

That's what's happening on the inside at the cellular level. On the outside, the affected individual may not feel anything until the degenerative process has gone on quite a while. Eventually, back pain, loss of motion, and loss of function get our attention. By then, there may not be much that can be done to save the disc. Right now, surgery to remove the disc is often the only option.

That could change if any of these biologic therapies can be perfected. Right now they are still in the experimental stages. Most of the studies have been done on animals but a few human trials have been conducted.

For example, disc tissue reimplantation is a process in which a few healthy cells are removed from an intact disc. They are taken to a lab where they can be multiplied and then reinjected into the diseased disc. The hope is that the new, healthy cells will replace the damaged cells and restore the strength of t...

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