Regenerative medicine: The future of sports medicine
- Q: As an orthopaedic surgeon, talk about the excitement you have for regenerative medicine impacting the future of sports medicine.
- Adam Anz, M.D.: One thing that keeps us passionate about what we do as orthopaedic surgeons is pushing the needle, or pushing progress. With specifically sports medicine and orthopaedics, in the 1900’s we had a huge boom or sentinel event with the arthroscope. The arthroscope changed everything for sports medicine. We believe that the next big boom is related to regenerative medicine, and we think that is not only stem cell technologies or technologies that involve cells with stem cell capabilities, but also growth factor products like platelet-rich plasma (PRP). These products are going to be (and developing these products) the next 30 years in sports medicine.
- Q: What regenerative medicine treatment options are available for patients now and what can they expect in the future?
- Adam Anz, M.D.: Regenerative medicine is really a big catchall term for some of these products that we have now but also are developing. Right now we can use PRP, which is something that has been developed around the indication of knee arthritis, or to treat people with knee pain due to degeneration. PRP is a blood product, meaning what we do is take a sample of blood, we spin it in a centrifuge which layers out that blood, so where the red blood cells are pushed to the bottom, there is a layer that is above the red blood cells, which is white blood cells, and there is plasma at the top. By taking that top layer we are taking primarily plasma and platelets, and that is something that has been around for a while and is available now.
We’re also using bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC), and what that means is instead of being a blood product like PRP, it’s a bone marrow product. Bone marrow is the substance within our bones and the best place that we have learned to harvest it is from the back of your pelvis. We numb up around the pelvis, we put a needle into the bone and then we can suck out some of the bone marrow, and we aspirate it through a syringe. We then take that bone marrow, we spin it in a centrifuge, the bone marrow aspirate layers out with the red blood cells at the bottom, a layer in between which predominantly has cells and some of those cells are stem cells, and then plasma at the top. By taking that bottom layer, we are taking a stem cell product.
Now we are developing some other technologies and we are excited about those technologies as well. There are also some other technologies out there and it is not so clear how those technologies are doing in terms of helping patients, and so we tend to stick with products PRP and BMAC for now, looking to develop some of the ones for the future.
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