Narrator: This is Science Today. Back pain affects over four million Americans each year and the rate of back surgeries to treat degenerative discs, including spinal fusion, has dramatically risen over the years. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco are working on new ways to treat this common ailment. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Bradford, says one of the possible treatments on the horizon is the use of tissue engineering.
Bradford: And that is using stem cell work to regenerate tissue. We in our lab are doing that type of work, as well as many centers around the world, trying to find ways to regenerate a degenerative disc, therefore restoring normal tissue.
Narrator: Other technologies in development allow surgeons to insert the inner portion of an artificial disc implant by using an endoscope.
Bradford: We at UCSF are working on that and have developed such a prosthesis that we hopefully can do clinical trials in Europe next year.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.