New Potential Alternative to Opioids Identified for Treating Back Pain

Spine Injury

Innovative gene therapy utilizing nanocarriers has shown promising results for treating disc-related back pain, as outlined in a recent study published in the journal Biomaterials. Researchers at Ohio State University have developed a novel approach that combines tissue regeneration and pain inhibition in mice models. The study’s co-senior author, Devina Purmessur Walter, an associate professor of biomedical engineering, highlighted the dual benefits of the treatment.

The team crafted nanocarriers from fibroblast cells and outfitted them with genetic material instrumental in tissue development. Direct delivery of these nanocarriers to the site of injury in mice imprived disc integrity and reduced pain indicators during a three-month assessment period. Co-senior author Natalia Higuita-Castro emphasized the potential impact of this method on enhancing disc healing post-surgery.

Intervertebral disc degeneration accounts for roughly 40% of low-back pain cases, and while present surgical options can lessen pain, they fail to repair the underlying tissue damage. The persistence of degenerative processes post-surgery poses a growing concern among clinicians seeking sustainable treatments.

This innovative gene therapy is a continuation of Higita-Castro’s previous research on using extracellular vesicles to reduce tissue injury. By mimicking these natural carriers, researchers found a potential path to long-lasting back pain management that could supersede conventional opioid treatments.

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