Diagnosis and treatment of intervertebral disc degeneration

Tech IDs: gaz000698, gaz000897, li001005



Back pain is an extremely common health issue, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point in their lives. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are commonly used to identify intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration in patients suffering from low back pain. However, the link between lower back pain and intervertebral disc degeneration does not always exist. Standard diagnostic procedures also include the use of provocative discography. In this painful procedure, discs are pressurized to induce pain so that affected discs can be identified for surgery. Given the high incidence of back pain and the lack of a diagnostic method that is both non-invasive and precise, there is a need for a novel method to determine specific IVDs causing pain.


Following diagnosis, treatment for back pain typically involves exercise and use of pain medication, both of which treat the symptoms of back pain but do not address the cause. Severe cases can require surgery, which is invasive and associated with long recovery times. In addition to improved diagnostics for back pain, a more effective treatment would greatly improve patient quality of life.


Technology Description

Researchers from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have developed both a novel diagnostic method and a therapy for back pain. The diagnostic method utilizes a combination of MRI methods, including quantitative chemical exchange saturation transfer (qCEST), to measure biomarkers associated with discogenic back pain.


In addition to the diagnostic MRI method, the researchers have also developed a method to generate notochordal cells (NCs), which are essential for maintaining healthy intervertebral discs but are absent in adult humans. Therefore, this method could provide a source of NCs for a cell therapy designed to address the cause of lower back pain.


Stage of Development

• Diagnostic – clinical trial in progress

• Therapy – in vitro data



• Diagnostic:

o Non-invasive and less painful than standard procedures, such as provocative discography

o Does not cause further damage to the discs in question

o Increased signal-to-noise ratio compared to MR spectroscopy

• Treatment:

o Addresses cause of pain rather than simply alleviating symptoms

o NCs are derived from patient’s own cells, reducing the risk of an adverse allogeneic immune response



Diagnosis and treatment of intervertebral disc degeneration and back pain


Intellectual Property

• Diagnostic:

o PCT/US2014/034720

- National Stage Europe EP2986210 - pending

- National Stage Israel 242122 - pending

-National Stage US 14/785,235 - pending

o PCT/US2017/036617 filed

• Treatment:

o PCT/US2016/038799

- National Stage US 15/739,555




Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Julien Brohan