The researchers and scientists of the International Human Genome Project first mapped our full genetic blueprint 18 years ago.[i] Their breakthrough efforts enable numerous advances in how we treat and prevent various diseases and orthopedic conditions.
The Human Genome roadmap allows us to better understand the genes that are associated with certain diseases and how these genes can predispose a person to develop these diseases. It can also help in understanding how genes can be altered to improve disease processes.
In the field of orthopedics, a group of scientists at Stanford University discovered a biological indicator of cartilage degeneration and inflammation in patients with arthritis, disc degeneration, and sciatica. This molecular complex is called the Fibronectin-Aggrecan Complex or FAC.
Alpha-2-Macroglobulin (A2M) is a Master Protease Inhibitor
Having identified the FAC molecular complex, the Stanford team recognized how this biomarker could be used in conjunction with a naturally-occurring blood protein called Alpha-2 Macroglobulin or A2M to improve the effectiveness of treatments for degenerative disc disease and joint arthritis. The FAC can be measured to predict which patients will have the best results with A2M therapy.
A2M inhibits the breakdown of collagen in cartilage and has been scientifically proven to stop the progression of joint cartilage and disc degeneration. It is known as a Master Protease Inhibitor. It inhibits proteases, which are enzymes that breaks down proteins in cartilage. Much like a levee along a rising river, it “holds back” and prevents damage to tissues.
How A2M therapy Works
A2M therapy is a non-invasive treatment performed on an outpatient basis. After conducting a complete examination, your physician will determine if you are a good candidate for this treatment. Further imaging studies such as x-ray, ultrasound, or MRI may be necessary to determine the cause of your pain.
The A2M procedure starts with a simple blood draw from the arm. The treatment is autologous, which means the A2M is derived from the patient’s own body. There are no donor products used. The blood is concentrated using an FDA-approved device in our lab. After numbing the treatment area, the concentrated A2M is injected on the same day. Digital x-ray or ultrasound guidance will be used to make the treatment comfortable, safe and precise.
Currently, this breakthrough treatment is only being offered by a select number of physicians across the country. By screening patients for these treatments, regenerative medicine specialists are able to offer targeted A2M treatment to appropriate patients. This gives patients new hope for relief of pain and inflammation due to common orthopedic conditions.
Drs. Christopher Rogers and Mary A. Ambach of San Diego Orthobiologics Medical Group are two of just a handful of physicians in San Diego who offer A2M therapy for their patients. They have found this and other new regenerative medicine therapies valuable for the treatment of pain and inflammation associated with arthritic joints and disc degeneration.