Freie Universität Berlin

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Correlation of histological and molecular data from aged patients with intervertebral disc degeneration to improve understanding of degeneration processes and discover new treatment strategies

Principal Investigators: Jessica Becker (Principle Investigator CUB, Research Laboratory, Dept. of Special Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery) and Prof. Dr. Petra Knaus (Principle Investigator FUB, Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry)

Project Summary: Degeneration of the intervertebral disc is a major public health problem worldwide and is associated with back pain. The degeneration processes increase with age and 60% of the adults around 70 years suffer from severe disc degeneration. Current treatment strategies include analgetics, physiotherapy and at the end spine fusion. However the degeneration process of the intervertebral disc is not changed by those treatments. It has been shown that different inflammatory cytokines trigger matrix degeneration. Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) 2 and Transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) 1 are two growth factors known to be important players in matrix formation. In this project we will analyse cells and tissue obtained from the intervertebral disc of patients with diverse grades of disc degeneration, to investigate their responsiveness to BMP2 or TGFβ1 in respect to the regulation of matrix composition. This information will be correlated with clinical data to discover new treatment strategies.