Bad back? Now, 'grow' a new spine in lab!

Damaged discs, a condition common among older people, occurs when the discs between the vertebrae wear away, leaving them to rub against each other. Until now, few treatments have been available other than surgery -- which has a high failure rate -- or a lifetime on painkillers.

But, a team at Gothenburg University now claims to have discovered how to regenerate the damaged discs in the back which cause agony to sufferers -- in fact they found that stem cell therapy could help the discs to self-heal.

Stem cells are the body's building blocks and possess a unique ability to repair damaged tissue and bone.

In their research, the scientists found there were areas on the edge of the discs which have similar properties to stem cells. Their experiments on animals showed healing in the discs and they hope to repeat the results in human tests, 'The Sun' reported.

Lead scientist Helena Barreto-Henriksson was quoted by the British tabloid as saying, "It is generally believed that cartilage has very little or no capacity to heal. Our study found the transplanted stem cells survived and that there was a certain degree of healing in the disc."
She added: "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."

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