SASpine recently began providing stem cell treatments, and here, Dr. Cyr discusses regenerative medicine and the development of stem cell therapies in the spine.
Q: What do you see as the next big breakthrough in regenerative medicine for spine?
I think most people would agree that restoring spinal cord function would be considered the ultimate breakthrough in regenerative medicine for the spine. There are many conditions affecting the spine that would change lives, including reproducible regeneration of degenerated, painful discs and chronically injured nerves. I believe there is potential for all those conditions to be improved. Our only limitation currently is a standardized system and research outlining the safest techniques and most effective source of stem cells and growth factors.
Q: How do you see stem cell therapies developing in the spine?
I believe the most common conditions, including discogenic pain, facetogenic pain, and chronically injured nerve roots will one day be treated effectively using stem cells and/or growth factors. Although more data is needed along with a standardized treatment regimen that has been proven to be effective and safe, we have already seen significant improvements in treating these conditions and other joint ailments with platelet-rich plasma, amniotic tissue and stem cells anecdotally. Clinical studies have even shown objective improvement in treating spinal and joint disorders.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic reported degeneration of spinal discs either decelerated or stopped when injected with stem cells. Other studies in which stem cells were injected into degenerated discs have shown improvement in both height and appearance of the discs. Additionally, for years I have seen impressive, long-lasting results that are superior to corticosteroids and viscosupplementation in both length of relief and return to function for many patients treated with regenerative techniques. However, regenerative therapies are still in their youth and we need to develop techniques that optimize the volume and efficacy of stem cell therapies with our current FDA limitations in the U.S.
For more information about SASpine’s Stem Cell Treatment Program, visit www.saspine.com or call (210) 487-7463 in San Antonio or (832) 919-7990 in Houston.