Stem Cell And Amniotic Therapies
The words “stem cell” have been the source of much media coverage, scientific debate, and political discussion. Stem Cell (and even more recently amniotic membrane) therapies as they apply to regenerative medicine refers to the use of either products derived from (donated) human placentas or derived from a person’s own tissues (typically fat or bone marrow).
Do regenerative treatments have proven effectiveness?
Currently, the largest body of research has involved the use of PRP. More recently, amniotic membrane and other tissues have been used for the same purposes as PRP. Amniotic membranes that have been freeze dried are very rich in growth factors and theoretically can provide a greater amount of growth factors than PRP as well as eliminate the need for a blood draw and centrifuge, making the procedure easier to perform. There is very little research on the musculoskeletal applications of these therapies, therefore it is not known if growth factors alone are sufficient to enhance the healing process. The most common means through which stem cells are harvested from a person’s bone marrow through a large needle that is bored into the pelvis, similar to a bone marrow biopsy. This procedure is invasive and painful, and is associated with risks including infection. There has been no standardization of the amount of bone marrow that is sufficient to inject into injured tissues. Therefore, it is somewhat unclear if any procedure has “enough” stem cells to do the job. Finally, because there is a large degree of variability among individuals. Because amniotic tissue derived is not the person’s own, there is a small risk of that person reacting to the amniotic tissue. Very recently, a company has developed a method of extracting live stem cells from placentas for potential injection/implantation. At the present time we are exploring stem cell therapies but have not chosen to utilize them at West County Spine & Sports Medicine.