Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
Academic Editor: John Zhang
Intervertebral disc degeneration is considered a major source of low back pain. Recent advances in regenerative medicine have led to promising new approaches for the biological treatment of disc degeneration. Treatment modalities include the administration of growth factors, the application of autologous or allogenic cells, gene therapy, in situ therapy and the introduction of biomaterials or a combination thereof. Promising experimental results in vitro and in animal studies support the potential feasibility of these treatment modalities in clinical studies. We will review the current literature on regenerative treatment strategies and discuss potential drawbacks as well as opportunities in translating current knowledge into clinical practice. Major obstacles to regenerative treatment strategies might be insufficient nutritional supply, pain mediating factors and functionally impaired donor cells. Therefore, for clinical application, patient selection will be essential. Molecular, cellular and radiological diagnostic tools to evaluate the eligibility of patients for particular treatment strategies need to be developed. In spinal surgery, two approaches are conceivable. Patients operated on lumbar disc herniations often develop back pain due to disc degeneration months to years after surgery. Here, additional regenerative interventions would have a preventive intention, whereas interventions for painful degenerative disc disease as an alternative to spinal fusion or disc arthroplasty would be a curative approach.