Chronic back pain is a common disability, which is often accredited to intervertebral disc degeneration. Gold standard interventions such as spinal fusion, which are mainly designed to mechanically seal the defect, frequently fail to restore the native biomechanics. Moreover, artificial implants have limited success as a repair strategy, as they do not alter the underlying disease and fail to promote tissue integration and subsequent native biomechanics. The reported high rates of spinal fusion and artificial disc implant failure have pushed intervertebral disc degeneration research in recent years towards repair strategies. Intervertebral disc repair utilizing principles of tissue engineering should theoretically be successful, overcoming the inadequacies of artificial implants. For instance, advances in the development of scaffolds aided with cells and growth factors have opened up new possibilities for repair strategies. However, none has reached the stage of clinical trials in humans. In this review, we describe the hitches encountered in the musculoskeletal field and summarize recent advances in designing tissue-engineered constructs for promoting nucleus pulposus repair. Additionally, the review focuses on the effect of biomaterial aided with cells and growth factors on achieving effective functional reparative potency, highlighting the ways to enhance the efficacy of these treatments.
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