Experts say that promising new research on stem cell therapy could one day help patients suffering from chronic pain; the groundbreaking study has implications for adults who suffer from degeneration in joints and spinal discs, especially.
The new research on regenerative stem cell treatments to heal bone fractures was published online in Molecular Therapy, a peer-reviewed journal in the Nature Publishing Group. The article, written by researchers from the Skeletal Regeneration and Stem Cell Therapy Program in the Department of Surgery and Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute, was accepted and published in a preview form online on Nov. 20, 2015, and will appear in a 2016 version of the journal.
A Dec. 8, 2015, article on the research, published in OrthoSpineNews, explained the researchers’ process. The researchers used a combination of mesenchymal stem cells, taken from the bone marrow of adults, and parathyroid hormone, or PTH, which regulates calcium levels in human bones.
Laboratory rats and pigs with vertebral fractures received daily injections of PTH for 21 days, along with five doses of stem cells during that period. The study found that the combination therapy “significantly enhanced the stem cells’ migration to the area of the bone fracture and increased the formation of new, healthy bone,” reports OrthoSpineNews.
Researchers explained that although PTH and stem cells can work well separately to heal bone fractures, their effects were much stronger when combined.
Dr. Charles S. Theofilos is a board-certified neurosurgeon and founder of The Spine Center, and he says that in some cases doctors can already use a patient’s own stem cells to treat chronic pain.
“The use of our own stem cells continue to show great success in the field of regenerative therapy,” Dr. Theofilos said in a statement. “This new, exciting research of a combination therapy shows the possibility of repairing bone fractures due to osteoporosis and provides hope to patients who suffer from this debilitating disease.”
Less intensive forms of treatment are usually recommended before surgery or regenerative stem cell treatments, but even so, Dr. Theofilos believes regenerative medicine is a “game-changer” in the health industry.
Stem cells are currently utilized in a number of treatments around the world to treat and manage conditions such as diabetes, heart failure, and degenerative bone and joint conditions that cause chronic pain. Between 2008 and 2012 alone, stem cell research grew considerably at more than double the rate of other research studies that took place during that time.
And so far in 2016, that trend is continuing, with Canadian researchers discovering a way to turn adult skin cells into stem cells, as well as other promising lines of inquiry.