View Full Version : Stem Cells for Scoliosis

05-16-2008, 02:45 PM
Got your attention, right? It's a bit of a bait and switch, although potentially great news for people having to undergo surgery:

Stem Cells for Scoliosis

POSTED: 7:25 am EDT May 13, 2008

Three to five children out of every 1,000 are diagnosed with scoliosis -- a curvature of the spine that can have serious consequences if the curvature gets worse. But now, there's a new, less painful way to treat it.

At age 14, Matthew Barmore is already six-foot-one with a passion for basketball. But just a few months ago, Matthew's doctor saw a problem -- a nearly 50 degree curvature in his spine. The diagnosis: scoliosis.

"Before surgery, the lump in his back caused by the spine curvature was about the span of both my hands together," said Matthew's mother, Rebecca Barmore.

"If the curve progresses, it can have profound affects on heart and lung function," said Mark A. Flood, D.O., an orthopaedic spine surgeon at Banner Desert Hospital in Mesa, Ariz.

Surgery to correct scoliosis used to mean cutting a large piece of bone from the iliac crest in the pelvis, then using it to create a spinal fusion so the curve didn't get worse.

"The problem with taking bone from the iliac crest is it's a significant source of pain sometimes even permanent pain," Dr. Flood said. "It requires another incision, potential risk of infection, and that bone is gone forever."

But Matthew was able to take advantage of a brand new therapy -- recently cleared by the FDA -- to repair his spine using stem cells harvested from his own bone marrow.

Used with bone from the Bone Bank, Matthew's stem cells would act as a sort of catalyst to support the growth of new bone along the spine and work with permanent screws and rods to fuse it into the correct position. The surgery reduced Matthew's curvature from nearly 50 degrees to just 15 degrees.

Just three months after surgery, Matthew's already playing one-on-one with twin brother Jordan, getting stronger every day.

"I'm able to shoot, dribble, run and jump," Matthew told Ivanhoe. "If this is any indication of what's going to happen I think it will just get better."

And now, Matthew's dreaming of a very big future. "What else? The NBA!" Matthew said.

Scoliosis is much more common girls than boys. Ideopathic scoliosis -- scoliosis of unknown cause -- is the most common type, usually occurring after age 10. Only some cases require surgery.

Center for Spinal Disorders and Pediatric Orthopedics
(480) 464-9400

05-16-2008, 03:07 PM
I've always wondered about the pain involved with donating bone marrow. I wonder if it rivals the pain from taking bone from the iliac crest. Probably not but I'm just asking.

05-16-2008, 03:23 PM
I was just about to start a thread on that ... how funny!

Posting soon :)


07-09-2008, 03:16 PM
I always wondered when are they going to involve stem cells in curing scoliosis.
But i was thinking - if they rebuild your flattened vertebras with stem cells , wouldn't it be fine if once that happens, just remove the rods of your spine. What do you think ?