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Aching Back? Cholesterol Medication Might Help
Date:2/22/2009

Study finds that using statins may be useful in treatment for degenerative disc disease

LAS VEGAS, Feb. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Back pain, a hallmark of degenerative disc disease, sends millions of people to their doctor. In fact, more than 80 percent of patients who undergo spine surgery do so because of disc degeneration. And part of the answer may be as close as a patient's medicine cabinet.

In their quest to discover ways to stop or reverse degenerative disc disease, orthopaedic researchers have been removing disc tissue from patients who are having spine surgery and extracting cells from that tissue for cultivation in vitro (a controlled environment outside of a living organism). They then transfer the cells back into the patient. Shu-Hua Yang, MD, PhD, is part of a Taiwanese research team that has discovered that Lovastatin, a cholesterol-lowering medication, helps the differentiation of disc cells in vitro.

Dr. Yang, who is chief of the department of orthopedics at National Taiwan University Hospital, Yun-Lin-Branch, is presenting the group's findings in the poster "Lovastatin Helps Re-Differentiation of Human Nucleus Pulposus Cells During Monolayer Expansion" during the 55th Annual Meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society, Feb. 22-25, 2009, in Las Vegas. Dr. Yang is also presenting the results of a related study, "Influences of Age-Related Degeneration on Regenerative Potential of Human Nucleus Pulposus Cells," at the same meeting. The two studies reveal the findings of a team of researchers from National Taiwan University Hospital.

In one study, the researchers removed nucleus pulposus tissues from six human patients. (Nucleus pulposus is the jelly-like substance in the middle of the spinal disc.) The patients, ages 23 to 29, were undergoing surgery for herniated lumbar discs. Researchers then isolated the nucleus pulposus cells and eventually added Lovastatin, hoping t
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SOURCE Orthopaedic Research Society
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