Latest findings in stem cell arthritis treatment were presented at International Cellular Medicine Society Conference held in USA in May 2012. Christopher Centeno, MD from Centeno-Schultz Clinic in Colorado, USA gave a speech about his ten year pre-clinical and clinical research in stem cell arthritis treatment. His conclusions are as follows:
- His study included 339 patients with II-IV degree arthritis who were treated with own stem cells for 3 months up to 4 years. A follow-up MRI was performed with 50 of them.
- Results have shown substantial objective improvement of the conditions and pain relief was reported, as well as improved ability to walk. This has been confirmed on MRI.
- Cases of IV degree arthritis that were candidates for knee or hip joint replacement improved significantly after stem cell therapy. Condition of 66% of the former and 77% of the latter has improved to such an extent that another invasive surgery was no longer necessary. Only 5 patients with knee arthritis and 12 with hip arthritis had to have their joints replaced within 1-2 years after the stem cell treatment.
- Stem cell treatment is a much safer procedure than a joint replacement surgery which comes with serious side effects in 7.7-10% as evidenced by various publications. Joint replacement is a complicated surgery often resulting in a sepsis, vein thrombosis and more seriously, pulmonary embolism. It requires a long recovery time and rehabilitation with large doses of pain relievers that do harm to kidney, liver and stomach. Also, joint replacement surgery is performed under general anaesthesia that is not suitable for elderly patients or cardiac patients. Finally there are prolonged waiting lists for candidates (it may take up to several years to be scheduled for replacement), which makes their lives even harder.
- None of the effects explained above were reported with the entire group of 339 patients who were treated with stem cells. No secondary cancer and post-treatment infection were reported that could have been linked to stem cell application. Minor side effect namely increased temporary pain and stiffness following stem cells application occurred in 5% of the sample. However, these disappeared within a few days. Pain relievers and anti-rheumatics did not need to be administered.
Besides clinical benefits there are also financial benefits. Joint replacement surgery is a costly solution worth hundreds of thousands of CZK whereas several tens of thousands per patient suffice for stem cell treatment. Not to mention follow-up care and rehabilitation. Stem cell treatment results in objective improvement in majority of cases and traditional surgery is no longer necessary.