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East Coast Orthopaedics

The Healing Benefits of Stem Cells

South Florida Hospital News and Healthcare Report
July 2014-Volume 11-Issue 1

By John Malloy, D.O.

With advancements in bionic limbs, 3D organ printers, gene therapy and more, one particularly important trend in orthopedics is the availability of autologous – one’s own – adult stem cells to treat an expanding range of soft tissue and bone pathologies and to enhance regenerative medicine.

In nearly every area of orthopedics, cell therapy is an emerging treatment option. Therefore, it is important to understand the differences between various stem cell therapies. Early research focused on human embryonic stem cells, which are obtained from human embryos, a practice that has generated some ethical concerns. Another type, the induced pluripotent stem cell, can be made in the laboratory out of a patient’s adult tissue, but manipulated into the properties of a human embryonic stem cell, without the ethical concerns. However, before either of these two types of cells will be available for therapy, the United States Food & Drug Administration will require a full safety and efficacy study program.

In contrast, it is possible today to treat disease and injury using the cells in human bone marrow. The bone marrow is removed from a patient’s hip, concentrated and then used in the therapeutic preparation to treat a wide variety of pathologic conditions.

Bone marrow contains a large number of different types of cells that help keep us alive. For example, there are precursor cells made in the bone marrow that eventually become red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Bone marrow also contains cells that are considered to be stem cells. For example, the original cell that is the source of all of the cells in our blood stream is called the hematopoietic stem cell.

Bone marrow contains another type of stem cell called the mesenchymal stem cell (MSC), which plays a critical role in the healing process. For example, MSCs are known to reduce inflammation associated with traumatic injuries like tendon/ligament strains or tears, osteoarthritis, bone fractures and cartilage tears, among others. As more MSCs and other adult stem cells migrate into the affected area, that disease or injury is being repaired and regenerated. A common example of tissue regeneration occurs every time you cut yourself. Initially, the wound can be puffy and hot, but within a few days a scab forms, which is a sure sign that MSCs and other cells are actively working to regenerate skin in the wound.

Many orthopedic areas have been treated with the patient’s own adult stem cells to ‘jumpstart’ the healing process, including shoulder, knee, hip, and spine degeneration, in addition to soft tissue – muscle, tendon and ligament – and other bone-related injuries. In this ever-changing healthcare landscape, it is important to use all tools available to boost the probability that a patient will heal. The use of bone marrow-derived adult stem cells is a significant tool to orthopedics today.

Dr. John Malloy, Broward Health North, can be reached at Eastcoastortho@comcast.net.

You can download the article here:
The Healing Benefits of Stem Cells-JP Malloy ECO-news article Jul 2014