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UC Davis neurosurgeons use adult stem cells to grow neck vertebrae
Date:9/6/2011

Neurosurgery researchers at UC Davis Health System have used a new, leading-edge stem cell therapy to promote the growth of bone tissue following the removal of cervical discs -- the cushions between the bones in the neck -- to relieve chronic, debilitating pain.

The procedure was performed by associate professors of neurosurgery Kee Kim and Rudolph Schrot. It used bone marrow-derived adult stem cells to promote the growth of the bone tissue essential for spinal fusion following surgery, as part of a nationwide, multicenter clinical trial of the therapy.

Removal of the cervical disc relieves pain by eliminating friction between the vertebrae and/or nerve compression. Spinal fusion is used following surgery for degenerative disc disease, where the cusioning cartilage has worn away, leaving bone to rub agains bone and herniated discs, where the discs pinch or compress nerves.

"We hope that this investigational procedure eventually will help those who undergo spinal fusion in the back as well as in the neck," said Kim, who also is chief of spinal neurosurgery at UC Davis. "And the knowledge gained about stem cells also will be applied in the near future to treat without surgery those suffering from back pain."

Millions of Americans are affected by spine diseases, with approximately 40 percent of all spinal fusion surgery performed for cervical spinal fusion. Some 230,000 patients are candidates for spinal fusion, with the numbers of potential patients increasing by 2 to 3 percent each year as the nation's population ages.

"This is an exciting clinical trial to test the ability of the bone-forming stem cells from healthy donors to help patients with spinal disease," said Jan Nolta, director of the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures.

"For the past 50 years, bone marrow-derived stem cells have been used to rebuild patients' blood-forming systems. We know that subsets of stem cells from the marrow also can
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Contact: Phyllis Brown
phyllis.brown@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9023
University of California - Davis Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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