From Texas Public Radio:
Esther Salinas of San Antonio has learned to live with the bone on bone discomfort of osteoarthritis. It’s a health problem often brought on by age, overuse or obesity.
“Steroid injections? It’s just a temporary fix,” Salinas said. “You know, you just deal with it.”
Salinas is part of a Food and Drug Administration pivotal trial to see if injections of her own stem cells into her knee will ease her pain.
The experimental procedure starts with liposuction.
Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon Jaime Garza, MD, harvests fat from the lower abdomen or the inner thigh. It takes a container of fat about the size of a stick of butter to get enough regenerative cells to inject back into the knee. They’re called adipose-derived stem cells.
“These are the cells that live around blood vessels throughout our entire bodies,” Garza explained. “These cells are in abundance in fat.”
The fat tissue is injected with an enzyme to help break it down, spun down and concentrated. Then, the sample is checked under a microscope to make sure it’s viable with enough live stem cells to be effective. Millions of them.
Within 90 minutes of the sterile processing, the concentrated cells are ready to be injected back into the patient’s knee. The idea is to jumpstart the body’s own healing.