The Regenexx Difference: A Cell Biology Practice with a Lab and Research Program
A few years ago we picked up on a medical publication that seemed to suggest that injecting mesenchymal stem cells through small bore needles may hurt the stem cells. The theory made some sense, because very thin needles might expose the stem cells to significant shear forces and turbulence that may damage the cells. The problem was that large bore needles used to place stem cells in a knee or shoulder tend to hurt patients more than tiny, thin needles. When looking at the publication more closely, it was clear that the authors had performed some strange machinations to try and replicate in the research lab what a medical provider might do in a clinic while injecting stem cells in a joint to manage arthritis. So we re-ran the experiment with very slow injection of cells and a more accurate representation of how stem cells get injected into joints and found no difference with the less painful thin needles. Since we had conflicting data we remained cautious and tended to stay with slightly bigger needles when injecting knees and shoulders. We just brought on a full-time researcher in the lab, so our research bandwidth has increased. As a result, we just re-performed the same experiment as part of another investigation and low and behold we got the same results-the smaller needles don’t hurt the stem cells. The graph above is from that recent experiment and shows stem cell viability (y axis) with differing needle sizes (x-axis) and shows no significant difference or trend toward less viability with smaller needle sizes. Thus, we will now use the smaller needles that our patients tend to like better. This again brings up again the Regenexx difference, we don’t just follow the directions that come in a kit we bought, we perform the basic research to make sure everyone else’s assumptions are accurate.