Monday, February 23, 2009

Lovastatin for the treatment of degenerative disc disease ?

We know that Lovastatin is a member of the drug class of statins, used for lowering cholesterol (hypolipidemic agent) in those with hypercholesterolemia and so preventing cardiovascular disease. But recentlyDr. Yang and his research group has come up with new innovative idea that Lovastatin, helps the differentiation of disc cells in vitro.

Degenerative disc disease is one of the leading sources of back and neck pain. Disc degeneration is part of the normal aging of the spine. In this condition, the spinal discs (the pillow-like pads between the bones) lose their cushioning. When this happens, it can cause persistent pain in the lower back, legs, neck or arms. Treatments for pain can include medications and physical therapy. Sometimes surgery is needed if the pain is severe and keeps a person from participating in everyday activities.

In their quest to discover ways to stop or reverse degenerative disc disease, orthopaedic researchers have been removing disc tissue from patients who are having spine surgery and extracting cells from that tissue for cultivation in vitro (a controlled environment outside of a living organism). They then transfer the cells back into the patient. Shu-Hua Yang, MD, PhD, is part of a Taiwanese research team that has discovered that Lovastatin, a cholesterol-lowering medication, helps the differentiation of disc cells in vitro.

The results are of great interest : 1. the number of nucleus pulposus cells had increased; 2. Lovastatin increased the synthesis of collagen II, a protein that makes up moveable joints, and decreased the synthesis of collagen I, a protein that is related to fibrosis and 3. Lovastatin had no cytotoxicity (the quality of being toxic) on nucleus pulposus cells..

I think if proven, one more addition to the list of serendipity.......

Though further studeis are essential to establish their claim, its a good beginning..


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