DCRI researchers receive grant to study biomarkers linked to chronic low back pain

September 25, 2017 – The DCRI’s Adam Goode, DPT, PhD, and his team will collaborate with UNC-Chapel Hill on the project.

The National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a four-year, $2.4 million grant to a team of Duke researchers led by the DCRI’s Adam Goode, DPT, PhD. The grant will fund an analysis of biomarkers that could be used to better understand the nature of chronic low back pain.

Chronic low back pain affects more than 31 million Americans and costs the national healthcare system between $100 and $200 billion each year. The condition has several different causes, making it difficult for physicians to treat effectively.

Physicians often determine how to treat chronic lower back pain through diagnostic clinical imaging. With a limited understanding of the etiologies of low back pain, however, patients often receive interventions that are unnecessary or even dangerous.

“Not knowing the exact source of a patient’s back pain can really hamper clinical decision-making,” Goode said. “The hope is that we can reduce some of that confusion through the use of biochemical markers.”

Goode and his team, working in concert with the Thurston Arthritis Center and Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, will conduct longitudinal analyses of an ongoing population-based study investigating the incidence and progression of knee, hip and spine osteoarthritis to determine if biomarkers and other risk factors can predict the incidence and progression of intervertebral disc degeneration and facet joint osteoarthritis with and without low back symptoms.

The data will come from serum samples collected by the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project, a community-based, longitudinal study of approximately 3,200 rural white and African American residents funded by the Centers for Disease Control and conducted by the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.  These samples will be validated against data collected from a second project, the Genetics of Generalized Osteoarthritis study. That study is cohort study designed to identify regions of the human genome associated with multi-joint osteoarthritis.

“We are very proud of Dr. Goode and his team for this important work,” said Benjamin A. Alman, MD, James Urbaniak Professor and Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. “This research is directly applicable to healthcare and will not only strengthen and diversify our research portfolio, but also pave the way to improve the way we care for patients.”

Co-investigators on the study also include the DCRI’s Steven Z. George, PhD, and Duke’s Jun Chen, PhD.