Blogging from the Caymans Again

I’m back in Grand Cayman, which I do twice a year to treat some of my patients with more advanced culture-expanded mesenchymal stem cells. What’s that about? Let’s dig in.

What are Culture Expanded Mesenchymal Stem Cells?

I use bone marrow concentrate in the United States, which contains the patient’s mesenchymal stem cells. However, in some clinical scenarios, it’s advantageous to grow those cells out to greater numbers in a lab, which is what the Cayman Islands site is all about.

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What Situations Require Culture-Expanded Cells?

When a patient needs or wants many body parts treated with stem cells, culture expansion can accomplish that goal. In addition, since a single bone marrow aspiration will allow us to save cells for future use, this process helps a patient avoid multiple harvest procedures. Finally, for patients wishing to treat chronic disc bulges causing nerve irritation and more advanced hip arthritis, cultured cells may work better.

Why is this Site in Grand Cayman?

The Cayman Islands, like several other countries, considers the use of autologous culture-expanded stem cells as the practice of medicine. In contrast, the US considers this a prescription drug requiring FDA approval. Hence, we have partnered with a lab and clinic in Cayman for many years that offers our licensed culture-expansion technology.

How Long Can Stem Cells be Saved In Cryopreservation?

The Grand Cayman site can store cells indefinitely at -120C in cryopreservation. In addition, because we’re also growing cells to greater numbers, on average, we can bank several treatments for the future. This, of course, depends on the cell requirements for any given treatment.

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How is the Cayman Clinic Staffed with Physicians?

The Cayman clinic is staffed by myself twice a year (March and November), but has a physician here from our Colorado clinic every month. In addition, several Regenexx network physicians also bring their patients here.

It’s worth noting here that being staffed with US-trained and actively practicing physicians makes the Cayman site unique. For example, Latin American sites or those in Europe or Asia can’t be staffed with US physicians because of local licensing laws. If you go to those sites to access culture-expanded stem cells, you get the local yocal doctor and not a highly trained US specialist.

What is Grand Cayman Like?

Unlike many Caribbean islands, Grand Cayman is a very first-world experience. It’s one of the world’s largest financial centers and home to countless hedge funds and accounting firms. It’s also a British protectorate, with many people from the US, Great Britain, and Canada, but also quite International with many other ex-pat communities. Seven-mile beach is one of the largest stretches of continuous sand in the Caribbean and is chock full of hotels and luxury condos. This past decade, the island has gotten a big development boost from Dart, a company founded by the inventor of styrofoam. There is also a tremendous open-air mall called Camana Bay, where I hang out with the family.

The upshot? I’m blogging from the beautiful Cayman Islands again! I’ve been coming here with my family and seeing patients since my youngest was about five, and now he’s in college and 19! This is a unique spot where we do extraordinary things for our patients needing culture-expanded cells.

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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NOTE: This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.

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