By Pat Anson
Enrollment has begun in a clinical study of an experimental stem cell therapy that could – if proven successful – revolutionize the treatment of low back pain caused by degenerative disc disease.
About 330 adults with chronic low back pain who have not responded to conventional therapy will be enrolled in the Phase III “Cascade” study at over two dozen medical centers in the United States. Participants will be injected in the lumbar disc with millions of Mesenchymal Precursor Cells (MPCs) – adult stem cells derived from donated bone marrow.
An earlier Phase II study showed that a single injection of a 6 million cell dose of MPCs reduced low back pain and improved function for at least 12 months. Participants also used fewer opioids for pain relief and required less treatment.
“If you look at the study as a whole, people who received the 6 million stem cell injection into the disc, 70 percent of them had a reduction of their pain of 50% or greater. These were clinically relevant changes,” said J. Scott Bainbridge, MD, lead investigator at Denver Back Pain Specialists, one of the clinics participating in the Cascade study.