Every year for the last 5 years or so, I’ve summarized the published research on bone marrow stem cell use in orthopedics. It’s been exciting to see this research base grow. As I said last year and will repeat again this year, anyone who says we have no research on bone marrow stem cell use is being ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst.
What’s This All About?
I perform a deep dive into the US National Libray of Medicine every year for bone marrow stem cell clinical research. I also take suggestions from anyone who knows of research outside that source and I add each study as a circle icon on a big infographic like the one you see above. That circle is a link that connects to the study to help anyone performing research reviews in this area and as a way to educate me about what’s getting published. Each circle icon has the number of patients that received bone marrow stem cells, the body area or application, the type of cells used (i.e. bone marrow concentrate or culture expanded bone marrow stem cells) and a syringe icon for an injection-based study or a scalpel for a surgical study. Click on the image above to see the PDF with hyperlinks.
My Total N Measurement
I measure the total n of patients who received bone marrow stem cells every year. It keeps growing as you might expect. Now, more than eleven thousand patients have received bone marrow stem cells and had their outcomes measured.
2018 was a Banner Year
As you can see above, 2018 had so many publications that it took up two rows. It looks likely to eclipse 2019. This may be due to the fact that since about 2017 the number of non-bone marrow stem cell studies is on the rise.
Philippe Hernigou is Still My Hero
I spoke to Philippe a few years back while we were both lecturing at a conference and he said that he had a large number of studies to release and that each had to be approved by the French government. He made good on that promise in spades, publishing 8 more studies on intraosseous applications of bone marrow concentrate, most with extended follow-ups of many years to decades. He is a machine.
My Heavy Hitter List
It’s easy to see that the same names pop up a lot in the literature. One is obviously Hernigou, but others include:
- Alberto Gobbi of Milan, Italy.
- Regenexx of Broomfield, Colorado.
- Rodrigo Mardones of Santigo, Chile.
- Mohsen Emadedin of Tehran, Iran.
Congrats to our research team!
What’s interesting to me is that despite the many, many billions the US spends on funding research, that of the 5 physicians and their universities/clinics who dominate the publication of clinical data on the orthopedic use of stem cells, only one is from the U.S. Two are from Europe, one from South America, and one from Iran.
Ignorance is Bliss
I still see orthopedic surgeons claiming that we don’t have enough research on bone marrow stem cells for them to begin using these critical tools. Hogwash. We actually have more research on this type of therapy than most surgeries you perform, so take some time and read the literature and climb down from your high horse already.
I also see science journalists who listen to bench scientists who also claim there isn’t enough research. Again, they’re obviously not reading the literature or they’re applying a much higher bar for this research than the rest of commonly practiced medicine. So stop living in the bench science echo chamber and read the literature.
The upshot? We have a healthy evolving literature base showing that bone marrow stem cells are effective and safe. I’m already compiling research for my all orthobiologics infographic and this year and that’s going to be epic, as other stem cell types are exploding. I’ll likely get that out this weekend.