New perspectives on degenerative disease treatment

Acta Reumatol Port. 2009 Apr-Jun;34(2B):327-35
Authors: da Silva MR, Domingues CJ, Pinto RP, Neves N, Matos RM, Tulha JM, Cabral AT

The degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a chronic and multifactorial condition of the intervertebral disc that can manifest itself by axial pain, radiculopathy, myelopathy and spinal stenosis. It constitutes an increasing cause of lumbar pain and morbidity in Western Societies, with important socio-economic implications. The available treatment options do not modify the intervertebral disc degeneration process and they are not always capable of relieving symptoms. The loss of proteoglycan content of nucleus pulposus appears to be the main event on DDD pathophysiology. The balance between synthesis and catabolism of the extracellular matrix can be altered by the use of several proteins, including growth factors. The transfer of genes encoding these proteins is an attractive treatment option and has been successfully achieved in animal models. Moreover, the transfer of steam cells in order to repopulate the degenerated disc and to revert the pathologic process might be another promissory strategy. The authors describe the actual knowledge about DDD and the investigation that has been made in gene therapy for DDD. The comprehension of the biological mechanisms of degeneration, as well as genetic manipulation and transfer of steam cells could be decisive and revolutionary in the understanding and treatment of this epidemic condition.

PMID: 19727045 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]