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Alternative Treatments For COPD Using Fat Stem Cell Therapy

When we break something, we try to glue it or maybe fix it with tape. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Our bodies work the same way. In this Good Morning Texas television appearance, Dr. Bill Johnson talks about an investigational study that looks at using our body's fix-it cells for hard-to-fix problems.

Here's a transcript of the conversation:

Hi, Dr. J!

DR. J: Good morning!

AMY: All right. Let's talk about this and it's a really cool one. What exactly are stem cells?

DR. J: Well, stem cells are the cells that we all grow from. So, all the embryos as we grow are stem cells and they end up becoming all the organs, all the tissues in our bodies. Then, once we're adults, anytime we need a new cell, it's a stem cell that produces the new cells as well. So, stem cells are very important in healing and one of the problems we have in some tissues is they just don't have very good supply of stem cells or stem cells can't get there to heal.

AMY: Okay.

DR. J: So, we're trying to harness that ability and deliver it to areas where we don't heal well.

AMY: Okay. So, talk about how stem cells work after we're born and how they enable the healing.

DR. J: Well, we've actually been using stem cells for about thirty years because bone marrow transplants came in the 1980s for patients with cancer and other problems and, at that time, we were just giving a lot of bone marrow cells. We now know that what made those work were the stem cells within bone marrow.

AMY: Okay.

DR. J: So, stem cells therapy has been around for thirty years in the United States. It's only now that we're starting to get outside of very specific areas and we've learned that you don't have to go to the bone marrow. You can do your own fat because it's more readily available and there are actually more stem cells in fat than there are in bone marrow.

AMY: Okay. That's what we really want to break down for GMT viewers today because you're using your own stem cells to put in other parts of your body that wouldn't necessarily be able to heal on their own. So, talk about that whole harvesting from fat.

DR. J: Well, we harvest a little bit of fat on liposuction. We do just a small amount of liposuction , about three tablespoons is what we do, and we take that and take about an hour and we get the stem cells out of it and we could then give that back in any number of manners. So, we're doing quite a bit on orthopedic conditions like arthritis and having really nice results.

AMY: Okay. Let's talk about the orthopedic problems like arthritis because so many people suffer from that. I know you've done some work with knees and other joints, too. Talk about the positive results you're seeing.

DR. J: We're still talking about small numbers of long-term data. But there are a lot of folks that can avoid having knee surgery or knee replacement by doing this type of procedure. We're seeing more and more improvements, still investigational, still small numbers, but really, really exciting.

AMY: Okay. So, we've talked a little bit about the orthopedic problems in arthritis. Any other areas you're seeing good measures?

DR. J: Well, the other area that I think we're seeing really remarkable results are with the neuropathies. Peripheral neuropathies have historically been really hard to do much about. Sometimes, you could mask their pain, but it's been very hard to restore function and we're actually seeing real improvement in pain and a restored function. We're seeing really good jobs with a condition called trigeminal neuralgia where you get severe facial pain and we've been able to calm that down. So, there are some real neurologic applications that are really exciting.

AMY: Okay. So, like you said, it's still investigational, still early days, but all of the indicators are that this is going to be a really great innovation.

DR. J: Yeah, we still are working on trying to understand exactly the best way to do it and we're trying to collect really good data so we can get better and better about it. That's why it's investigational.

AMY: Okay. So, the big question is, does insurance cover stem cell therapy?

DR. J: Well, that's a real important question and no, it doesn't. Right now, it is investigational.

AMY: Okay.

DR. J: And so, insurance companies aren't covering it. It's a patient-paid cash business.

AMY: Okay. So, you've got to call for more information and see if you're a good candidate.

Dr. J, always good to see you! Thank you for being here!

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