Spanish scientists from the Cell Therapy Network of the Carlos III Health Institute have shown that using autologous mesenchymal cells belonging to the patient to treat the chronic back pain, is a therapeutic approach with similar results or even more effective than those offered by the surgical intervention that is currently performed.

To carry out the study, the researchers designed a pilot trial with ten patients suffering from chronic low back pain, and those who had been diagnosed with lumbar disc degeneration, and injected them with autologous mesenchymal stem cells - which had been obtained from their own bone marrow- selected and expanded.

Patients who were injected with mesenchymal stem cells were followed and monitored for one year, and were shown to show rapid improvement in both pain and disability

These patients were followed up and monitored for a period of one year, and it was found that they showed a rapid improvement, both in pain and disability.

When comparing the effectiveness of this new treatment with the surgical alternatives currently available, it was observed that it was similar or superior, and that it also had the additional benefit of being a simpler and less invasive intervention, and able to better preserve the biomechanics of the spine.

Currently, the authors of the work -which has been published in the scientific journal Transplantation- they use this cell therapy as a use compassionate, name that is applied to a treatment authorized individually by the Spanish Agency of Medicines in cases where better treatment is not available.

Low back pain and work disability

Only in the European Union there are 67 million people affected by low back pain, a disorder that is considered the second cause of sick leave. In addition, it is estimated that 75% of the population suffer from low back pain during their life, and in 5-10% of cases the pain becomes chronic.

Disc degeneration, very common from the age of 50, is one of the main causes of chronic back pain. Although it does not present symptoms in many cases, when it causes recurrent pain and disability, the most common treatment involves surgically intervening the patient to fuse the vertebrae, which is called arthrodesis. Each year about 1,000 arthrodeses are performed in Spain and, in the United States, around 40,000.


Mayo Clinic uses stem cell therapy to treat arthritis in knee (November 2019).