Stem cell research experts gather in Vail
VAIL — Stem cell therapy is a topic of scientific discussion that many people have heard about — perhaps from a radio commercial for a new clinic — but very few can accurately explain.
A Google search of the term “stem cell clinic” yields more than 1.5 million results. Clinics are sprouting up across the country at an alarming rate, according to a recent study in the journal Cell Stem Cell. There are now 571 clinics in the United States offering stem cell treatments directly to patients claiming to treat everything from knee injuries and back pain to autism and muscular dystrophy. The claims are frequently unsupported and of questionable benefit.
The physicians, scientists and researchers at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute want to answer those questions and ease some of that uncertainty and confusion about stem cell research. Steadman Philippon Research Institute will be assembling 43 of the top doctors and researchers in the field of regenerative medicine Aug. 18-20 in Vail to participate in the second Vail Scientific Summit. This year’s theme is “Engaging the Greatest Minds in Regenerative Medicine and Science.”
“Clearly, people are eager to learn more about how stem cell research might help them overcome or delay the effects of certain illnesses or conditions,” said Dan Drawbaugh, CEO of Steadman Philippon Research Institute and The Steadman Clinic.
“SPRI’s team of physicians and scientists now know that the process of repairing musculoskeletal tissue through stem cells can be applied to other conditions-cancer, heart disease, aging, and more,” Drawbaugh said. “Our team is working to identify the conditions that best respond to stem cell therapy. Our research science is changing medicine and restoring and broadening hope for patients. Medicine is entering a new era, and scientists are on the forefront of these discoveries.
Sharing credible stories
The explosion of stem cell clinics around the world has led to some amazing stories, with reports of near-miraculous recoveries and life-changing discoveries being made. The stories sound terrific but are they credible?
Are the benefits described in these stories real? Are people being helped or are some of these clinics taking advantage of patients who desperately seek relief from their pain and discomfort? Are there scientific studies that lend support to the positive reports extolled in these “feel-good” stories?
“We want to help clarify where the current research in stem cells and regenerative and translational medicine is going,” said Dr. Johnny Huard, chief scientific officer of Steadman Philippon Research Institute and distinguished professor and vice chair for research, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “We have 43 of the very best in the field coming to Vail to share what they have learned. They come from some of the finest research hospitals and universities in North America and represent a wide scope of specialties and study.
“Our goal is not to be overly critical of all the stories out there,” said Huard, who discovered the muscle-derived stem cell, “but to identify the proper treatments and separate some of the myths from what the actual scientific research has discovered.”
The participants in the summit will discuss their latest discoveries, share best practices and identify stem cell treatments that — based on science — provide the best benefits to patients suffering from joint injuries, osteoarthritis and more.
It would be really hard to spark a wildfire anywhere near Vail Mountain or Beaver Creek right now. Still, unattended campfires will always draw attention.