Stem cell therapy being used for osteoarthritis

Published: Feb. 21, 2017 at 4:17 PM EST
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Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the US, affecting nearly twenty-seven million adults. It is currently an incurable disease in which the joints deteriorate. Now, a therapy that has been used in eye surgery and to heal the skin of burn victims is being used for the first time in knees and this new form of treatment involves stem cells from amniotic fluid.

As a professional photographer, climbing up step ladders and walking down stairs are part of the daily grind for 65-year-old Linda Schwartz.

"There’s constant activity; you’re moving the whole time, really," said Schwartz.

But the pain of osteoarthritis in both of her knees was making all that activity a little harder.

"Tried cortisone shots. I had, um, something called Euflexxa. I was sent to physical therapy twice. I mean, I did try acupuncture in my knees. But it didn’t really seem to make a difference," said Schwartz.

"It’s like the rubber on the tire. So as you start to lose the rubber in your tire and the rim hits the road, that’s what happens when you have bone on bone arthritis and you’ve lost all the cartilage in your knee," said dr. Adam Yanke, an orthopedic surgeon at rush university medical center.

Orthopedic surgeon Adam Yanke enrolled Schwartz in an experimental new therapy that involved injecting amniotic fluid that contained stem cells donated by healthy mothers into the knees of osteoarthritis patients.

"Between the two of those they’re a potent anti-inflammatory and they also have growth factors that help promote healing or healthy growth of tissue," said Dr. Yanke.

It was by far the most effective pain treatment that Schwartz has tried and, unlike cortisone shots, there are no side effects. The pain relief has so far lasted up to a year.

"It was a very gradual feeling of it’s a little bit better, it’s a little bit better, and then realizing, wow, it’s really pretty good," said Schwartz.

The one drawback is this therapy is not for patients whose arthritis is so bad it requires knee replacement surgery. Even though it’s still in the experimental stage, Dr. Yanke offers the stem cell treatment to his patients, but at a cost of 2200 dollars a shot, it is not yet covered by insurance.

TOPIC: Heart Attack: Slashing Door-To-Balloon Times

REPORT: MB #4218

BACKGROUND: A heart attack is an event that occurs when the blood flow that transmits oxygen to the heart is severely reduced or stopped completely. One reason for this blood flow to become reduced is because of the blockage of an artery due to fat, cholesterol or plaque. About every 43 seconds, a person in America suffers from a heart attack. The most common symptoms of a heart attack are the following:

* Chest discomfort, including uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or pain in the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and later comes back.

* Discomfort in other areas of the body, including pain in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.

* Shortness of breath.

* Cold sweat, nausea and lightheadedness

The most common symptom in men is chest pain, whereas women are more likely to experience shortness of breath, vomiting and pain in other parts of the body.


ACTING FAST: Heart attacks are very delicate events, and in order to overcome them it is important to act fast. If you think you are suffering from a heart attack it is important to call 911 immediately in order to be treated as soon as possible in a hospital with treatments like balloon angioplasty, clot-dissolving drugs, surgery and/or a combination of all of the above.


DOOR-TO-BALLOON: In order to save lives it is not only important that the patient acts fast, but the hospital does as well; every minute matters. Normally, severe heart attacks like a STEMI are treated with a door-to-balloon protocol. Door-to-balloon is the time that elapses from when a patient enters the door of the hospital to the time blood flow is circulating to heart again. The American College of Cardiology suggests that this time should be 90 minutes or less. In order for these times to be achieved it is important that everyone involved is working consistently and together; this includes doctors, nurses, paramedics, and pharmacists. There is a checklist these professionals have to follow and the data of each patient is posted daily. The Cleveland Clinic has been able to cut the door-to-balloon time almost in half. Thirty-five percent of their patients have had door-to-balloon times of 45 minutes or less and others were able to be treated in only 21 minutes. Researchers will soon publish the results of how their protocol reduces the overall time and how it is specifically impacting death rates.

(Source: Dr. Travis Gullet &


Andrea Pacetti