15:59 PM

Regenerative Medicine: The Promise for the Future

Autumn Years discusses the potential and current capabilities in regenerative medicine according to HSS experts Scott A. Rodeo, MD, sports medicine surgeon, and Naimish Baxi, MD, physiatrist.

Dr. Rodeo noted that regenerative medicine has the potential to revolutionize patient care, but the field is still in its early stages. He added, more research is needed to identify what types of treatments work best for a particular condition and for a given patient.

Dr. Rodeo explained, “We can potentially use regenerative medicine therapies for conditions that don’t heal well on their own, such as osteoarthritis, chronic tendonitis, degenerative disc disease in the spine and other injuries. I tell patients these types of treatments can work well for pain relief. However, in terms of regenerating damaged tissue such as cartilage, we’re not there yet.”

Some studies have shown platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment to be effective in the treatment of chronic tendon injuries and mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis. Dr. Baxi explained, “Although the exact mechanism of action is unclear, evidence suggests that the platelets amplify growth factors that promote tissue repair and healing.”

He continued, “Patient selection is key. For someone with severe bone-on-bone arthritis, for example, PRP may not be the most effective treatment option.” He added that a thorough patient history, a discussion of symptoms, and diagnostic imaging tests such as x-rays, MRI and ultrasound are critical to make the diagnosis and determine if PRP would be a good option.

Dr. Rodeo underscored vigilance when considering regenerative medicine treatment options. He explained, “The marketing is ahead of the science. Unscrupulous providers and clinics are marketing largely unproven treatments, targeting patients who hope to find relief for a difficult-to-treat problem. People sometimes pay exorbitant sums of money for these unregulated and potentially harmful treatments, possibly delaying a proven treatment that could be beneficial.”

At HSS, a number of regenerative medicine studies are under way and enrolling patients. Dr. Rodeo is leading one such clinical trial to see if the injection of certain cells contained in adipose (fat) tissue during rotator cuff surgery can enhance healing. He believes regenerative medicine research at legitimate centers around the country will bring significant progress over the next five years.

This article appeared in the Spring 2022 print edition and online at Omagdigital.com.