Lab–Grown Artificial Spinal Disks Could Save Your Back

Lab–Grown Artificial Spinal Disks Could Save Your Back
About 20 million Americans suffer from acute bouts of back pain every year. Pain decreases within a few weeks in most people, but 5 percent suffer from chronic, debilitating pain that requires surgery. Surgery often involves spinal fusion, but orthopedic scientists are developing artificial disks to replace injured ones. A problem with synthetic disks is that they cannot be remodeled in response to normal biomechanical loads. Cornell University scientists, in studies on rats, are attempting to grow artificial disks in the laboratory. This approach has been used to build cartilage to replace injured tissues in knees and hips. The structure of spinal disks is more complex, but the procedure holds the promise of reducing pain and restoring normal spinal function. (New Scientist)

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