How Long Can a Cultured Stem Cell Treatment Last?

Our practice was the first on planet earth to treat orthopedic patients with culture-expanded stem cells in 2005. That’s so long ago in the timeline of regenerative medicine that it’s hard to imagine that we actually did this back then. As a result of that vast experience, I’d like to review a patient who just reached out on the tenth anniversary of her treatment at our licensed Cayman clinic. Let’s dig in.

A Random Linkedin Message

This week, I got a message on Linkedin:

“Hi Dr. Centeno,
Wanted to let you know this year is the 10 yr anniversary of my procedure at Cayman Island. Last weekend, I hiked up a 3000ft mountain, 3.1 miles 2500ft elevation gain. Not 60 yrs old yet. Thanks, Tari”

As a physician, it’s great to get these messages. Particularly this week, which was a crazy one in clinic. For a doctor, this is the equivalent of a teacher getting a random message from an old student reaching out to thank you for inspiring them to win the Nobel prize!

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Tari’s Story

I first saw Tari in March of 2012 at our licensed advanced culture-expanded stem cell site in Grand Cayman to treat her arthritis in both knees:

Basically, one knee had severe arthritis and the other had mild arthritis. Because she had severe arthritis and back then we didn’t have robust data that showed that the severity of your knee arthritis didn’t matter, I conservatively placed her in the Fair category for a cultured stem cell procedure on her knees.

What is  Culture-expanded MSC Treatment?

Most of our knee arthritis patients do well with a same-day bone marrow concentrate procedure. However, Tari had lots of areas to be treated. That included her knees, shoulder, and low back, all requiring stem cells. Because of that, she likely wouldn’t have enough in a single bone marrow concentrate procedure (BMC), hence she was seen at the Grand Cayman site. There, we took a bone marrow aspirate just like a BMC procedure, but instead, we sent that to the lab to grow out her mesenchymal stem cells to much larger numbers. We then used some for her knees and other areas and saved the rest in cryopreservation.

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How Long Do These Treatments Last?

Tari’s story is not unusual. We have patients who got stem cell knee arthritis treatments back in 2005 and 2006, so we have seen these procedures last 10+ years before. Given that Tari’s knee needed a knee replacement in 2012 and she was in her mid-forties at that point, kicking that can down the road 10+ years served a critical health protection purpose. Why? Someone who gets a knee replacement at that age is all but certain to need at least a second and perhaps a third procedure to remove the worn-out prosthesis and put in a new one. In addition, based on the existing research, a knee replacement patient is unlikely to continue to climb mountains like she’s doing now. So that decade of high activity has significant health benefits as well.

The upshot? I’m so happy that Tari reached out. It’s great to hear from old patients about how they’re still kicking it because of what we did way back when!

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

If you have questions or comments about this blog post, please email us at info@regenexx.com

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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