(Photo of Dr. Kim courtesy of UC Davis)
Last month two neurosurgeons at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, California, performed surgery on a 53-year-old man with degenerative disc disease that was causing him intense pain. Doctors removed several cervical discs between the vertebrae of his neck (technically, an anterior cervical discectomy). So far a standard operation. Unfortunately, in many cases the body does not regrow adequate bone to fuse the vertebrae during recovery. Sometimes bone is transplanted from the patient's hip or from the bone of a cadaver donor, and bone marrow is often used to promote blood-forming, which involves the use of stem cells from the marrow. Success rates vary.
In the clinical trial that these UC Davis doctors are enrolled in, a stem cell therapy is applied to the vertebrae to encourage fusion during recovery. The study is sponsored by Australian biotech company Mesoblast, Ltd., which is developing adult universal-donor stem cell products built upon the discovery of adult-derived mesenchymal precursor cells. The UC Davis Department of Neurological Surgery will enroll up to 10 patients in the bone fusion surgical trial, as will 9 other research institutions in the United States. If approved, the advanced stem cell therapy offers hope to the millions of people suffering from chronic, debilitating back and neck pain, some of whom have already had the traditional surgery without success and look forward to better chances of full recovery if they undergo the procedure again.
(Image of mesenchymal precursor cells courtesy of Mesoblast, Ltd.)
This is one of several clinical trials being carried out at the UC Davis Spine Center by Dr. Kee Kim, who performed this surgery along with Dr. Rudolph Schrot. Both are neurosurgeons who work with the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures, the new $62 million institute located on the university’s Sacramento campus. Also at the Sacramento campus are:
A nationally-designated cancer center
A renowned neurodevelopmental institute (see our earlier blog on MIND)
State-of-the-art imaging and biophotonics programs
An academic medical center
Biotechnology Calendar Inc. will hold its 9th Semiannual Sacramento BioResearch Product Faire exposition at the UC Davis Medical Center campus on January 25, 2012. This popular event brings together medical researchers and life science equipment providers to discuss new products and services that move research forward. For more information and a full-page funding and data report on UCDMC, click the button below: