Autologous, Culture-Expanded Mesenchymal Stromal Cells for Degenerative Disc Disease


  • Study type

  • Study phase

  • Study IDs

  • Describes the nature of a clinical study. Types include:

    • Observational study — observes people and measures outcomes without affecting results.
    • Interventional study (clinical trial) — studies new tests, treatments, drugs, surgical procedures or devices.
    • Medical records research — uses historical information collected from medical records of large groups of people to study how diseases progress and which treatments and surgeries work best.
  • During the early phases (phases 1 and 2), researchers assess safety, side effects, optimal dosages and risks/benefits. In the later phase (phase 3), researchers study whether the treatment works better than the current standard therapy. They also compare the safety of the new treatment with that of current treatments. Phase 3 trials include large numbers of people to make sure that the result is valid. There are also less common very early (phase 0) and later (phase 4) phases. Phase 0 trials are small trials that help researchers decide if a new agent should be tested in a phase 1 trial. Phase 4 trials look at long-term safety and effectiveness, after a new treatment has been approved and is on the market.

  • Site IRB
    • Rochester, Minnesota: 17-002136
    NCT ID: NCT03461458
    Sponsor Protocol Number: 17-002136

About this study

To determine the safety and feasibility of autologous, culture-expanded adipose-derived (AD) mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) in subjects with painful degenerative disc disease (DDD).

Participation eligibility

Participant eligibility includes age, gender, type and stage of disease, and previous treatments or health concerns. Guidelines differ from study to study, and identify who can or cannot participate. If you need assistance understanding the eligibility criteria, please contact the study team.

See eligibility criteria

Inclusion Criteria:

  1. Male or female subjects 18 years of age and older
    • Persons of childbearing potential must be non-nursing and have a negative serum pregnancy test prior to receiving the study drug and will agree to use adequate contraception (hormonal or barrier method or abstinence) from the time of screening to a period of 24 months following completion of the drug treatment cycle. Persons of childbearing potential are defined as premenopausal and not surgically sterilized, or post-menopausal for fewer than 2 years. A urine pregnancy test will be performed prior to the administration of the study drug to confirm negative results. If the urine pregnancy test is positive, the study drug will not be administered and the result will be confirmed by a serum pregnancy test. Serum pregnancy tests will be performed at a central clinical laboratory, whereas urine pregnancy tests will be performed by qualified personnel using a kit.
    • Persons becoming pregnant during the study will continue to be monitored for the duration of the study or completion of the pregnancy, whichever is longer. Monitoring will include perinatal and neonatal outcome. Any serious adverse events (SAEs) associated with pregnancy will be recorded. The requirement for radiation (X-ray, MRI) will be removed.
  2. Moderate radiographic degeneration of an Intervertebral Disc (IVD) from L1 to S1, with a disc suspected of causing chronic low back pain. Chronic low back pain is defined as the following:
    • Low back pain for at least 6 months
    • Failed at least 3 months of conservative back pain care. Conservative treatment regimens may include any or all of the following: initial rest, medications e.g., anti-inflammatory, analgesics, narcotics/opioids, muscle relaxants, massage, acupuncture, osteopathic or chiropractic manipulations, activity modification, home-directed lumbar exercise program, and non-invasive pain control treatments or procedures
    • Have at a minimum undergone supervised physical therapy, such as daily walking routines, therapeutic exercises, and back education programs specifically for the treatment of low back pain AND taken a pain medication for back pain (e.g. NSAID and/or opioid medication).
    • Low back pain of at least 30mm and not more than 90mm of 100mm on low back pain VAS (average pain over 24 hours)Radicular leg pain ≤20mm in both legs on a 100mm VAS scale
    • Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score of at least 20 and no more than 90 on a 100 point scale.
  3. Patients must demonstrate radiographic evidence of mild to moderate degenerative disc disease as defined by radiographic evidence of modified Pfirrmann scores of 3, 4, 5 or 6 on MRI at the index disc. With respect to inclusion criteria, DDD is defined as radiographic evidence of change from normal disc morphology of the index disc identified by modified Pfirrmann score and Modic Type I or II changes. • Change from normal disc morphology of the index disc will be determined based on radiographic evaluation. Radiographs must show all of the following as determined by participating fellowship trained radiologists at Mayo Clinic:
    • A modified Pfirrmann score of 3, 4, 5 or 6 on MRI at the index disc
    • Modic Grade II changes or less on MRI at the index disc
    • With or without contained disc protrusion at the index disc on MRI
  4. Full understanding of the requirements of the study and willingness to comply with the treatment plan, including laboratory tests, diagnostic imaging, and follow-up visits and assessments.
  5. Can provide written informed consent and complete HIPAA documentation after the nature of the study is fully explained and prior to any study-related procedure.

Exclusion Criteria:

  1. Subjects who are pregnant or nursing, or subjects planning to become pregnant in the first 24 months post-treatment. If a subject becomes pregnant during the study, the subject will remain in the study and only the requirement for radiation (x-ray or MRI) will be removed.
  2. Extreme obesity, as defined by NIH Clinical Guidelines Body Mass Index (BMI > 40)
  3. Have undergone a surgical procedure (e.g. discectomy, intradiscal electrothermal therapy, intradiscal radiofrequency, artificial disc replacement, interbody fusion) on the disc at the index or adjacent level
  4. Osteoporosis, as defined by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan. A DEXA T-score of ≤ -2.5 will exclude the subject. The following at-risk subjects will be required to undergo a DEXA scan at screening: i. Daily, chronic use of oral steroids of ≥5 mg/day ii. Daily, chronic use of inhaled corticosteroids (at least twice per day) iii. Use of short-term (less than 10 days) oral steroids at a daily dose >20mg prednisone (or equivalent ) within 1 month of study procedure
    1. Female subjects with a Simple Calculated Osteoporosis Risk Estimation (SCORE) of ≥6 and male subjects with a Male Osteoporosis Risk Estimation Score (MORES) of ≥6
    2. Females ≥50 years of age or who are post-menopausal or post-hysterectomy with oophorectomy
    3. Subjects taking bisphosphonate medications for the treatment of osteoporosis
    4. Subjects with a history of chronic, high-dose steroid use (oral and/or inhaled). High-dose steroid use is defined as:
  5. Any lumbar intradiscal injection, including steroids, into the index or adjacent discs prior to treatment injection, with the exception of the following injections performed at least 2 weeks prior to study treatment:
    1. Contrast medium (discography or other diagnostic injection)
    2. Nerve-blocking anesthetics (e.g., lidocaine, bupivacaine) iii. Antibiotics iv. Saline
  6. Have undergone a procedure affecting the structure/biomechanics of the index disc level (e.g. posterolateral fusion)
  7. Clinically relevant instability on flexion-extension as determined by the investigator by overlaying films.
  8. Have an acute fracture of the spine at the time of enrollment in the study or clinically compromised vertebral bodies at the affected level due to current or past trauma, e.g., sustained pathological fracture or multiple fractures of vertebrae.
  9. Presence of any of the following spinal deformities: scoliosis >10 degrees, spondylolysis at the index disc, spondylolisthesis > grade II at the index disc.
  10. Presence of sequestered fragments, facet cysts, severe spinal stenosis, or severe disc degeneration at the index level and/or adjacent levels (as defined by modified Pfirrmann score greater than 6) by MRI.
  11. Presence of a Grade V annular fissure on discography.
  12. Presence of multi-level disc disease (> 1 level of involvement).
  13. Epidural steroid injections within 8 weeks prior to treatment injection
  14. Active malignancy or tumor as source of symptoms or history of malignancy within the 5 years prior to enrollment in study, except history of basal cell carcinoma of the skin, squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, or squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix if fully excised and with clear margins.
  15. Currently participating in another investigational trial and/or plans to participate in any other allogeneic stem cell/progenitor cell therapy trial
  16. Have been a recipient of prior allogeneic stem cell/progenitor cell therapy for any indication or autologous stem cell/progenitor cell therapy or other biological intervention to repair the index intervertebral disc
  17. An average baseline morphine equivalent dose (MED) of >75mg/day, as determined by the investigator during Screening consultation.
  18. Taking systemic immunosuppressant medications or having a chronic, immunosuppressive state.
  19. Taking anti-rheumatic disease medication (including methotrexate or other antimetabolites) within 3 months prior to study enrollment.
  20. Clinically significant abnormal hematology (complete blood count with differential), blood chemistry, or urinalysis screening laboratory results, including aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine transaminase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), bilirubin, creatinine, and C-Reactive Protein (CRP).
  21. Ongoing infectious disease, including but not limited to tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis, and syphilis.
  22. Unexplained fever, defined as greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38.0 degrees Celsius, or mental confusion at baseline.
  23. Clinically significant cardiovascular (e.g. history of myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure or uncontrolled hypertension > 90 mmHg diastolic and/or 180 mmHg systolic), neurologic (e.g. stroke, TIA) renal, hepatic, or endocrine disease (e.g. diabetes).
  24. History of clinically significant blood dyscrasia, including but not limited to anemia, thrombocytopenia, and monoclonal gammopathy.
  25. Participation in a study of an experimental drug or medical device within one year
  26. Known allergy to local anesthetics of other components of the study drug.
  27. Known history of hypersensitivity or anaphylactic reaction to murine or bovine products or dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO).
  28. Any contraindication to MRI according to MRI guidelines, or unwillingness to undergo MRI or X-ray procedures.
  29. History of or current evidence of alcohol or drug abuse or dependence, recreational use of illicit drug or prescription medications, or have use of medical marijuana within 30 days of study entry, as determined by the investigator during Screening consultation.
  30. Any illness or condition which, in the investigators' judgement will interfere with the patient's ability to comply with the protocol, compromise patient safety, or interfere with the interpretation of the study results.
  31. Being involved in active litigation related to subject's low back pain.
  32. Have a mental illness that could prevent completion of the study or protocol questionnaires.

Participating Mayo Clinic locations

Study statuses change often. Please contact us for help.

Mayo Clinic Location Status Contact

Rochester, Minn.

Mayo Clinic principal investigator

Wenchun Qu, M.D., M.S., Ph.D.

Open for enrollment

Contact information:

Zachary Pohlkamp


More information


Publications are currently not available

Study Results Summary

Not yet available

Supplemental Study Information

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