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Vail clinic and Texas hospital inking deal

Daily staff report
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HOUSTON — If you are an adult in the United States, there is approximately a one-in-two chance you will be affected by arthritis, back pain, osteoporosis or some other type of musculoskeletal condition. You may even need surgery.

Researchers working on innovative treatments for these conditions at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the Steadman Philippon Research Institute in Vail recently signed a collaboration agreement. Research is focused on boosting the body’s natural healing powers and is being conducted collaboratively by scientists in the UTHealth Department of Orthopedic Surgery and the Steadman Philippon Research Institute.

“Our goal is to be a leading center for regenerative medicine,” said Walter R. Lowe, M.D., chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at John P. and Kathrine G. McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.



Working to reduce the approximately 1 million joint replacements performed in the U.S. each year, researchers believe that in the future they may be able to repair joint damage with a patient’s own stem cells along with platelet-rich plasma and exercise.

Speedier recovery



These types of treatments are also seen as a way to speed recovery following surgery.

Johnny Huard, Ph.D., who is leading the collaborative projects between the two institutions, joined the staffs at UTHealth and the Steadman Philippon Research Institute in 2015. He is the director of the Center for Tissue Engineering and Aging Research at the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases at UTHealth.

“UTHealth is the ideal partner for us to expand and accelerate our regenerative medicine research,” said Dan Drawbaugh, CEO of the Steadman Philippon Research Institute and The Steadman Clinic. “This marks a major step forward in the stem cell research world. Since Dr. Huard’s arrival, we have been working closely with the staff at UTHealth to create a world class partnership. Our ultimate goal is to advance the science and, most importantly, translate it to clinical practice where we accelerate life changing medical treatments and therapies for our patients.”



Huard and his research team at UTHealth are conducting orthopedic research in animal models and plan to begin human trials. In particular, Huard is interested in exploring the use of muscle-derived adult stem cells to shorten recovery times following orthopedic surgeries and to accelerate healing through the use of platelet-rich plasma.

Much of the work involving stem cells to treat musculoskeletal conditions is still in the experimental stage.

In addition to musculoskeletal conditions, Huard plans to explore the use of adult stem cells to treat heart disease, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and aging. Huard also plans to look at stem cell therapies for neurological conditions such as concussions.

Lowe envisions additional collaborations with researchers at other institutions in the Texas Medical Center and across the world. He said that doctors training to be orthopedic surgeons at UTHealth will receive training in the area of regenerative medicine.


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