Disc disease and rat spinal discs

Oh, My Aching Back

Back pain (intervertebral disc disease) is one of the most common disabilities in the world, resulting in dysfunction, disability, and loss in quality of life for millions of people. Current treatment options are very limited such that patients are often relegated to “just dealing with it” or facing invasive operations. Preventative and regenerative strategies are currently unheard of. One of the major impediments to progress in this area is the lack of a good model to study this problem in the laboratory. So, the COL is putting our team to work on this—student James Stannard, visiting fellow Kaz Edamura, and Drs. Kuroki, Stoker, Choma, O’Connell, Pfeiffer, Jeffries, Reinsel, and Kuhns are developing techniques for putting the spine in a test tube so that we can understand the problems more clearly and develop novel ways to prevent and treat this.

Disc disease and rat spinal discs

In our model, rat spinal discs (top) are injured to create a model for disc disease seen microscopically here (bottom).