Researchers from University of Alberta have identified certain genes responsible for spinal disc degeneration.
Michele Crites-Battie and Tapio Videman, in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, have discovered eight genes linked to lumbar disc degeneration.
"We found more genes associated with disc degeneration than was discovered in 30 prior studies. This is very exciting," said Videman.uring the study, the researchers looked at 25 specific genes they thought could be linked to the disease and narrowed their search down using state-of-the-art DNA analysers.
"Identifying genes involved can provide important insights into the biological mechanisms behind disc degeneration and a better understanding of what is going wrong in the system," said Crites-Battie.
"This can eventually lead to effective interventions for the problem," she added.
The pair will conduct further studies to look at the interaction between these eight genes and their environment. This will help them identify what gene forms indicate susceptibility.
"This will tell us who should avoid physical loading, and in which people obesity could be a risk factor for spine problems," said Videman.
This could be a long process as disc degeneration is what's called polygenic, meaning it involves more than one gene.
"There are likely to be quite a number of genes involved and a system of complex gene-gene and gene-environment interactions," said Crites-Battie.
"Obtaining a full appreciation of the genetic architecture of disc degeneration is likely to be a very lengthy, involved process," she added.