Predicting Stem Cell Yields – Removing the Blindfold…

by Chris Centeno, MD /

stem cell yields

As I’ve blogged before, Regenexx is one of the few organizations that counts the number of cells in a stem cell harvest. This is mission critical, as this number represents a dose that our research shows can help make treatment decisions based on how many stem cells you have available. How can we improve on this? Predicting what the dose will be before we begin the stem cell harvest.

First, we use a bone marrow aspiration to harvest stem cells for clinical use. This is a simple procedure that’s well tolerated and produces a certain number of stem cells. To learn more about how stem cells are counted, see this old blog post. These cell numbers can vary greatly from patient to patient. Since we’re the first organization on earth to use clinical registry data to determine a minimum dose of stem cells for knee arthritis to ensure the best outcome for the patient, this number can often determine if the patient has enough cells to treat one knee or both knees. However, while the doctor gets this number once the cells have been processed and can make decisions on what can be treated, it would be transformative if the number of stem cells expected from that patient could be determined before the draw occurs, as then the doctor could adjust the volume of tissue taken to ensure that there are enough stem cells available to treat the patient. For example, if the count looks low at the bedside, then take more cells to compensate. This last bit is a lot harder than it looks.

We first began looking into predicting stem cell yields for a given patient about 6 months ago. We felt it would be as simple as taking a few cc’s of bone marrow aspirate, counting the cells in that sample, and plugging that into an equation to get some final estimated number of cells. However, the data on actual cell yields from patients was fairly random and didn’t allow any accurate prediction. We then went back to the drawing board and made some important changes to the process. I’m happy to announce that our second try at this worked well, in that so far we’ve been able to predict the final yield with high accuracy. We’re now moving this into a third phase, where we’ll add in many more patient bone marrow aspirations to further improve the accuracy of the prediction.

The upshot? Regenexx takes stem cell therapy and moves it to the next level. Since we know what the proper dose of cells is to increase the odds of a successful outcome, the next question becomes, how can we increase the dose in patients who might not have enough cells? Our new predictive dosing initiative is closing that gap. Why are we spending the resources to do this when the vast majority of clinics treating patients with stem cells don’t even know how many cells they have? Because it’s the next step of refinement in what we do and it will help more patients benefit from the therapy.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

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.
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