Biomarkers of Degeneration and Back Pain

Project Funding: NYS DOH ECRIP

In collaboration with surgeons at the NewYork-Presbyterian Och Spine Hospital and Lenox Hill Hospital we have embarked on multiple prospective observational clinical studies related to spinal degeneration and back pain. We are investigating potential systemic biomarkers of IVD disease severity and back pain. To date we have enrolled over 200 clinical subjects. Our findings indicate that back pain patients have elevated systemic inflammation, in a manner that depends on the diagnosis of the disc pathology. These findings confirm our hypothesis that inflammation is a driving force of pain propagation associated with spinal degeneration. We have identified a profile of mediators that are correlated with improvement in pain and disability with epidural steroid injection treatments, in collaboration with physicians in Columbia's Department of Rehabilitation and Regenerative Medicine, and The Spine & Pain Institute. Our studies are identifying markers to accurately predict response to treatment, which may be a more powerful indicator of outcome than commonly used spine radiological examinations.