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Online ISSN 1827-1707
Gruber H. E.,Hanley Jr. E. N.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC, USA
Recent advances in our understanding of the biology of the intervertebral disc, coupled with advances in tissue engineering, recognition of the potential value of stem cells in cell-based therapies, and advances in gene therapy techniques, have directed attention towards novel biologic therapeutic approaches for the treatment of disc degeneration. Since current non-surgical treatment methods, such as fusion, disc spacers and disc replacement, are not physiologic, limit motion, and place excess stress on adjacent spinal segments, biologic approaches to therapy merit serious consideration. In this article, we provide a review of the current literature relevant to biologic treatments for disc degeneration. Because they represent a very specialized research area, projects directed towards development of an artificial disc are not reviewed here.