Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Surprising find may yield new avenue of treatment for painful herniated discs

29.06.2010
An immune cell known to cause chronic inflammation in autoimmune disorders has been identified as a possible culprit in low back pain associated with herniated discs, according to doctors at Duke University Medical Center.

The finding implicates the cytokine molecule interleukin-17, and supports the burgeoning theory that an immune response plays a significant role in disc disease, says William J. Richardson, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Duke. It may also open the door for new, therapeutic approaches that target a specific immune response in hopes of halting disc destruction, and possibly reversing the disease process.

"By identifying the specific subpopulation of lymphocytes (immune cells that are excited into action by the cytokine), it may soon be possible to arrest the body's inflammatory response to disc cells," says Richardson, senior author of the research published online this week in the July issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism. Doing so could reduce the painful inflammation associated with degenerative disc disease, and halt the evolution of arthritis. It may also reduce the need for back surgery.

"Mechanical forces may initiate the degenerative process, but biochemical inflammatory changes certainly play a role in disc pathology," says the study's first author, Mohammed Shamji, MD, PhD, senior neurosurgery resident at The Ottawa Hospital, Ontario, Canada, who participated in the research while at Duke. Decreasing the inflammation may arrest or reverse the patient's disease process and perhaps reduce the need for surgery. "Now we are learning which pathways we have to block."

Low back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical care, and both degenerative and herniated discs -- also referred to as slipped discs or ruptured discs -- are common causes of that pain. The economic impact of medical care for herniated discs in the U.S. is estimated to be as high as $200 billion per year.

Herniated discs occur when the tough outer layer of cartilage cracks, allowing pieces of the softer inner material to protrude into the spinal canal. Until recently, it was thought that pain occurs when the material touches a nerve. Now doctors believe the pain is the result of an immune response caused by the presence of inflammatory cells.

"The center of the disc is immune-privileged since it has never been exposed to the immune system," says Shamji. When a disc is injured or degenerates, the body reacts against the invading inner material as it would against any virus or foreign body, and launches a response targeted at destruction. The nerve root, which is present near the protruding disc material, becomes painfully inflamed, swollen and damaged during that cascade of events.

In recent years, several anti-immune therapies, including steroids, have been injected into the space between the disc and the nerve, but with limited success, doctors say, because they don't target a specific immune response, and because low doses are used to minimize potentially serious side effects that include a higher predisposition to infection, activation of tuberculosis and a six-fold increase in lymphoma incidence.

The identification of IL-17 in the cascade of events is significant, Shamji says. "It's a product of a specific subgroup of immune cells that are involved in auto immune phenomena like rheumatoid arthritis and asthma, but not in the body's response against infection or tumor. If you target this specific lymphocyte, you may avoid compromising the body's ability to protect itself against infection or tumor."

Researchers say they're still several steps away from human studies of IL-17 blockers currently in development.

Debbe Geiger | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation
24.05.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Carcinogenic soot particles from GDI engines
24.05.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>