Good afternoon, I’m Dr. Robert Marx, Professor of Surgery, Chief of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Miami. Everyone asks, what is new in stem cell science? I’m going to cover that this afternoon.
What is new with stem cell research and regenerative medicine has captivated the entire medical industry. Its implications for patients continues to be exciting and save on health care costs, cuts down on patient pain, and increases the safety of surgery. Mothers and fathers will be able to go home to their families much sooner—in some cases two days instead of ten. There is a greatly reduced risk of infection because we are no longer introducing plastics or other infection-prone objects—instead, we are using the patient’s own stem cells—and that means there is no chance of rejection by the body. After all, we are using the body’s own stem cells now. And those cells can be directed to produce bone.
We have accomplished over 500 cases in the past eleven years. We grew new healthy tissue where it is needed–directly in the patient and in this particular patient, the bone. We developed it right there in the person not in a culture plate. The result is large segments of bone, rebuilt, such as the jaw bone, without taking away bone from the patient such as their ribs, hips, or leg bones, as is commonly done. We no longer have to take bone out of the body. We now grow new bone with a patient’s own stem cells and this can be done in any area of the body.
While the patient is asleep, we use a small needle for a big operation. Because we’ve simplified the operation, it will reduce the time the patient spends in the hospital, and that reduces the cost for everyone, especially the patient. And there is great comfort for the patient knowing that we are using their own stem cells. There is also comfort knowing you can go home in as little as two days, because we want people to be able to return to their own life again.
Now, we can also collect more stems cells, which has been a big challenge to the industry. At the University of Miami I’ve worked to develop a brand new technology, FDA cleared, that we have found to harvest more stem cells, more safely. The industry has had a tough time getting to all those stem cells. Why? Because they tend to hug the inner wall of the bone marrow—and the current way that we retrieve them doesn’t provide that much. So what I’ve developed is a new device that targets the inner wall of the marrow—that way we can capture many more stem cells. We have also seen some devices break. But with this new flexible device, surgeons won’t have the risk of breakage. There you have it—we can preserve and capture more stem cells for the betterment of our patients.