One example of this phenomenon is the fact that even well-trained physicians often completely miss the context of what’s happening in scientific papers they read. A case in point from a few years back was one of our fellows who should have known better. He shared a research paper with me and was convinced it showed that a fat-graft machine was producing viable stem cells. That was until I pointed out that the authors had described in the methods section of the paper that they had used an enzyme (which is illegal in the U.S.) to break down the fat and isolate the stem cells. Other examples include physicians who offer up papers in support of their use of a certain same-day stem cell procedure when, in fact, the paper is really about a different cell type, like isolated and culture-expanded stem cells.
Other points of confusion surround how stem cells are counted. There are numerous methods that tell you different things. There are CFUs, flow cytometry, TNC, and actual counts of isolated and culture-expanded cells. Each of these counting methods has its positives and negatives, but the average physician working in this space would be hard-pressed to tell what those were. By extension, take the whole concept behind flow cytometry and cell-surface markers. What does it tell you if a cell is CD34-, CD105+, CD73+, CD44+, and CD271+? How about if a cell is CD34+?
To help everyone understand all of this complex terminology, I have been asked by the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation to give an upcoming webinar on October 21st, where I’ll explain all of this and much more and then take questions (click here to sign up now). The teaser video is above. While this is a physician-level webinar, patients are welcome as well!
The upshot? I hope to see you on the 21st! Make sure you know what all of these terms mean, and advance your regen med knowledge!