Interesting story out this week on Medtronic’s Bone Morphogenic Protien (BMP) device used to promote spinal fusion-Amplify. Spinal fusion is when a surgeon does something to cause one vertebra to fuse to the other (grow together). Lumbar fusions are big surgeries with big risks. BMP-2 is used by surgeons to stimulate two bones that normally wouldn’t grow together to fuse. We have published with CSU on the use of BMP-2, so we have some knowledge of it’s properties. One of the concerns we’ve seen clinically is that when used in fusions, it seems to really irritate spinal nerves and lead to significant radiculopathy. Now this article raises concerns about it possibly leading to a higher rate of cancer. This may make some sense and this is one of the reasons we have always avoided using recombinant growth factors with our stem cell procedure. The concern is that these growth factors can be given at doses many, many times their normal physiologic ranges to “whip” cells into doing certain things. This extra stimulus may promote tumors, as cells are cycling much faster than their design specifications. As an alternative, we have always used the patient’s own growth factors from blood platelets to grow cells, as the levels of growth factors are more physiologic. The jury is still out on the cancer risks of this device, so only time will tell.
About the Author
Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in regenerative medicine and the clinical use of mesenchymal stem cells in orthopedics. He is board certified in physical medicine as well as rehabilitation and in pain management through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.…