Oscar C. Johnson MS PA-C PhD

Intermountain Stem Cells

1868 – German biologist, Ernst Haeckel uses the phrase stem cell to described a single celled organism that acted as the ancestor cell to all living things.

1909 – Alexander Maximow introduces the idea of blood cells being multipotent.

1953 – Leroy Stevens performing cancer research in mice found scrotal tumors containing mixtures of differentiated and undifferentiated cells. These cells were pluripotent.

1968 – Robert Good of the University of Minnesota performs the first successful bone marrow transplant.

1981 – Martin Evans of the University of Cambridge and Gail Martin of the University of California, San Franisco, are the first to isolate embryonic stem cells.

1986 – Andrew Lassar and Horold Weintraub of Seattle, Washington convert fibroblasts directly into myoblasts using a single gene (MyoD). This experiment of converting one type of adult cell into another was the first step towards regenerative medicine.

2004 – Woo-Suk Hwang et al., used therapeutic cloning to create the first human stem cells.

2009 -Geron Corporation obtains approval from the FDA for the first clinical trial for a therapy based on human embryonic stem cells. The NIH (National Institute of Health)issues guidelines on federal funding for stem cell research. Any scientist wanting to conduct research on any of the 13 recognized line of human embryonic stem cells can now apply for federal funding.

Regenerative therapy has evolved out of this timeline of research and events. The formation of this rapidly developing field of science fosters in a branch of medicine that will improve the quality of lives on the whole planet by curing disease. Enhanced with our current knowledge of the human genome, academic departments will be created or expanded. Scientific collaboration will broaden the knowledge base of governmental and lay bodies to the great therapeutic and biotechnological potential of cures for major diseases that devastate lives and families.

Stem cells are theorized to not only replace damaged or dysfunctional cells, but also regenerate new healthy tissues. Reports of people with horribly debilitating disorders improving after receiving stem cell therapy are being reported almost daily on the local new channels. Advancements in research during the last few years on embryonic, fetal, amniotic, umbilical cord blood, and adult stem cells has constituted a revolution in regenerative medicine and cancer therapies.

Reports of professional athletes receiving stem cell therapy and continuing or extending their careers is now common. There have been multiple notable athletes who have had stem cell treatments. Kobe Bryant extended his NBA career after stem cells in his knees. Peyton Manning not only extended his career but went on to win a Superbowl after having stem cells in his neck. Bartolo Colón recovered his 95 mph fastball after stem cell therapy. Legendary athletes: Bart Starr, John Brodie and Gordie Howe, all improved from stroke after stem cells therapy.

“As the number of professional athletes getting stem cell treatments continues to climb … I think the number of ordinary people is likely going to continue to climb, too,” says Paul Knoepfler PhD, a cell biologist from the University of California, Davis. Dr. Knoepfler writes frequently on policy surrounding stem cells. He continues, “The term ‘stem cell’ makes it sound cutting edge and exciting,”.

Jimmy Andrews MD, considered by this author and possibly anyone who is involved in sports medicine as the alpha surgeon of sports, has performed stem cell treatment on several hundred professional athletes in the United States over the past three years. He says, “We have had one big revelation in sports medicine over the last 50 years, and that was the arthroscope … I’ve been looking for the next wave, and I think the biologics, particularly stem-cell therapy and enhancement of the healing properties, will be it.”

To the general population this is hope. Hope for Multiple Sclerosis. Hope for spinal cord injuries or the stroke patient. Hope for Lou Gehrig’s disease. Hope for Osteoarthritis. Most people have now heard of stem cells but it is still a mystery in the realm of magic to them.

The general perception is that stem cell therapy must involve some “super science” and is financially unattainable. The fact is,it does involve “super science” but that doesn’t mean it can’t be explained simply. Basically, a stem cell is different from other cells for two important reasons. First, it is an unspecialized cell that is capable of renewing itself. It is a cell waiting to become something. Second, it is a cell that can be induced to become a variety of different cells. This is a property called pluripotent or multipotent. Pluripotent being able to become any tissue and multipotent being able to become most tissue. These cells can be harvested from the umbilical cord, bone marrow and adipose tissue.

Regenerative Medicine being an emerging new field of medicine has many unknowns to still be learned.Stem cell current applications as treatments are frequently exaggerated by the media and other parties who do not fully understand the science and current limitations.It is not uncommon to see overly optimistic headlines or lead stories in the news espousing effective treatments that are more hopeful than true. This is not to say that there has not been significant benefit. Multiple diseases and disorders are reversing their destructive properties as a result of the developing new medical therapies from stem cell research. Medical providers still have much to learn about how to more effectively utilize stem cells in their practices for the benefit of their patients.The potential to treat more diseases in the future is encouraging and both medical providers and scientistmust endeavor to further understand the fundamental biology of stem cells and their applications.