Yesterday I was meeting with the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation (IOF) scientific team. They showed me this great book that teaches physicians how to count the number of cells in a same-day stem cell treatment. I quickly realized that I was seeing a first in stem cells, a nonprofit organization that was dedicated to advancing the field and was willing to teach every physician who would listen how to up their game. As a result, I whipped out my phone and took a picture of this historic document.
If you’ve had a stem cell treatment or are planning on getting one, it’s almost a certainty (unless you saw a Regenexx network physician) that your doctor had no idea how many cells were being injected or if he or she did know the number, what that number meant. Think about that for a second and let it sink in. We have an entire new generation of physicians adopting stem cell treatments after taking weekend courses who have no idea how many stem cells they have available or how many should be injected. In no other area in medicine would that be remotely acceptable; in fact, in pretty much all areas, it would be considered really irresponsible.
Let’s take, for example, in vitro fertilization. Fertility specialists know if they have implanted a single embryo or five, as if they implant multiple embryos, the patient is more likely to end up pregnant, but she is also more likely to end up with twins, triplets, or more…In orthopedic stem cells, we do have several studies that suggest that dose is important. The largest orthopedic stem-cell-dosing study is one that we published on knee arthritis, where a minimum number of total cells was required to increase the likelihood of better pain improvement with a same-day stem cell procedure.
The manual above is historic as no other organization has stepped forward to teach physicians and technicians how to reliably count the cell content of a stem cell sample being used in a patient. While many regenerative medicine conferences exist out there (almost all are for-profit ventures), I have never seen a physician nonprofit in this space take the lead on such a critical issue.
Reviewing the manual yesterday, it’s well written, easy to follow with copious illustrations, and idiot-proof at a physician level. While I don’t want to suggest that doctors are idiots, very, very few have any type of formal cell-biology training, so this book needed to be written at a level that nonexperts could readily understand. The scientists at IOF did a great job at finding that perfect educational level.
So how can your doctor learn to count? The IOF has courses it will be giving several times a year, teaching your doctor or his or her assistants how to accurately count cells. These courses will be taught by real stem cell scientists and will include hands-on experience with samples as well the use of many different commercial counting devices. Given that the IOF isn’t trying to sell anything to anybody, it will let the physicians decide which technologies they want to use.
The upshot? The book you see above represents a stem cell first—a nonprofit dedicated to upping the game of the tens of thousands of physicians who have taken a weekend course on how to use stem cells. Why does the IOF want to make sure that everyone begins to understand and measure dose? Because a world where the dose of every stem cell cocktail is known is one where physicians begin to understand how to maximize that dose by improving their stem-cell-harvest techniques. It’s also one where physicians can publish more research on how dose impacts outcome in different disorders. In short, it’s a better world than the one we live in now, where 99% of the time, the cell dose isn’t known or understood.
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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.…