Despite being the first clinic in the world to inject stem cells into low back discs, we’ve had a piece missing in our research portfolio. We’ve published on knees, hips, shoulders, and other joints, and while we’ve included low back disc cases in our complications papers, we’ve held back on publishing a paper on efficacy. That has now changed with our new low back stem cell research paper on disc bulges. In fact, this is just the first of two papers that we have headed your way.
The History of Low Back Stem Cell Research
Way back when in 2004, I read a research paper that changed everything. A Japanese scientist was able to regenerate degenerated discs in rabbits. As a result, in 2005/2006, as part of an IRB-approved study, I first began to inject severely degenerated discs with same-day stem cells, and when those results were disappointing, I switched out and began to use cultured stem cells. This made me the first doctor on earth to inject stem cells into the discs of patients with low back pain.
Our early experience with injecting discs was not very interesting, as not much happened. I later switched up the protocol by using hypoxic conditioned cells in 2007/2008. The idea at that point was that since the environment of the disc was a tough environment for cells to survive, we would do certain things in culture to choose cells that could survive that harsh environment.
While we’ve published lots of papers since 2005, for some reason we never got a low back stem cell paper out. This changed when we showed our promising data to a small publicly traded company that promptly licensed that tech and began the long process of seeking FDA approval. About two years ago, that company, now called Biorestorative Therapies (ticker BRTX), decided to sponsor bringing our low back disc patients back to Colorado to look at in-depth outcomes and complications. This low back stem cell study was just published. This new study is just part one of a two-part series as we have a second study that includes more patients (33) that will highlight the MRI and outcome results in our registry. We also have another paper on hundreds of patients treated with our novel platelet lysate epidural technique that helps patients avoid harmful low back steroid shots.
The upshot? We’ve been offering low back stem cell injections longer than anyone else on earth, but for some reason we never got around to publishing this data. In the next few months, you’ll see two other low back papers from the Regenexx research team!