Orthobiologics research has come a long way since the earliest reports of platelet rich plasma (PRP) in the 1980s and stem cells in the 1960s.  There has been exponential growth in the number of published scientific studies on PRP and stem cells in orthopedics over the past 10 years.

Regenerative medicine is a new medical specialty that uses advancements in the study of cells and tissue engineering to understand how the body heals itself. In the field of orthopedics, regenerative treatments have evolved to capitalize on the unique healing qualities of our own cells to stimulate healing, reduce inflammation and decrease pain for a variety of musculoskeletal conditions.

The demand for regenerative treatments continues to grow as patients discover how these treatments are successfully being used to treat acute musculoskeletal injuries and degenerative conditions.  More and more patients have benefited from such therapies with reduction in pain and significant improvement in their quality of life.

Regenerative Medicine in 2020

Clinical trials and research in regenerative medicine has provided more ever increasing evidence for the safety and efficacy of cell based therapies when used in orthopedics such as osteoarthritis, tendon tears, ligament injuries, low back pain, sciatica and several others conditions.

The choice of regenerative treatment depends upon multiple factors including the type and severity of injury, medical comorbidities and other issues unique to each patient. San Diego Orthobiologics Medical Group offers a number of regenerative medicine options such as:

  • Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy: Growth factors and proteins in the platelets and plasma of the patient’s own blood promote tissue repair and reduce inflammation. Specific PRP formulation is customized to joints, tendons, ligament or nerves for maximum results.
  • Adipose Derived Stem Cell Therapy: Fat tissue derived from your own body enables regenerative cells (such as stem cells) within your own fat tissue to work together and repair, reconstruct and replace damaged or injured tissues.
  • Bone Marrow Aspiration Concentrate (BMAC): Utilizes regenerative cells that are contained within your own bone marrow. The marrow contains a rich reservoir of anti-inflammatory molecules, platelets and stem cells to stimulate your body’s ability to improve circulation, decrease inflammation and regenerate tissues.
  • Prolotherapy: Medications that help regenerate tissue and relieve pain are injected into injured ligaments, tendons or joints to strengthen and improve stability in patients with osteoarthritis, ligament sprains and sports-related injuries.

Moving Forward

The field of regenerative medicine is continuously evolving and expanding.  Cell based therapies are getting acknowledgement in orthopedic surgery and have been used to accelerate healing and improve outcomes. The combined use of cells and protein scaffolds (tissue framework) are utilized for cartilage, tendon, ligament and bone tissue engineering to accelerate healing and long lasting results.  Surgery to repair bone fractures or bone defects have been supplemented with cell therapy to increase bone healing and mineralization.

Many other exciting potential applications for stem cell therapy are currently being studied, not just in orthopedics, but in other specialties. The idea that a patient can bank their own stem cells to store for future use is already a reality.

However, there is still more work to be done in order to make significant progress on this field.  Although there are thousands of studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, there is a great need for more high-quality studies and clinical trials.  Continued work on standardization of processes, reporting and treatment protocols is vital.  Collection of data through registries is not only important to track patient complications and outcomes, but also to guide future decisions made by insurance companies and regulators.  Collaboration with a multidisciplinary team of experts in physical medicine and rehabilitation, orthopedic surgery, sports medicine, cell therapy, molecular biology and others will continue to move the field forward at a rapid pace.

Drs. Christopher J. Rogers and Mary A. Ambach of San Diego Orthobiologics Medical Group are experts and leaders in the field of regenerative medicine. They are involved in clinical trials using cell-based therapies for knee osteoarthritis and disc degeneration in the lumbar spine. They have published in multiple medical journals and Regenerative Medicine textbooks.  They serve as faculty members and lecturers at national and international medical conferences and serve on the board of directors for several regenerative medicine organizations.

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