Advancing Stem Cell Technology
The great hope of Empty Nose Syndrome patients is regenerative medicine, a field involved with the restoration of body tissues. The most promising technology being explored is stem cell technology.
According to this article titled “Stem Cells from Fat – Plastic Surgery’s New Frontier” stem cells article stem cell technology is already being applied by plastic surgeons in the United States.
“There is no doubt that the most exciting frontier in medicine now is the use of stem cells,” the article states. “Stem cells have the power to restore beauty, heal damaged tissues, and the potential to treat and cure some disease.”
“Up until recently the media has largely focused on the more controversial embryonic stem cells. These are stem cells derived from embryos. The potential uses of these cells to cure and treat diseases remain vast, but the controversial source of the cells poses ethical questions which have delayed medical progress.”
“During the past decade, researchers have discovered that stem cells can also be extracted from your own fat tissue. These adult stem cells have the same potential as embryonic stem cells, except for the ability to differentiate into sperm or ova. Unlike embryonal stem cells, stem cells extracted from your own fat are abundant, easily available, and pose no ethical or political controversy.”
“Due to FDA regulations, stem cell therapies to treat diseases are not yet available in the U.S. unless you are part of a clinical trial. In this capacity they are considered to be ‘drug therapy’ and subject to very strict regulation. Therefore, patients not enrolled in these trials are currently traveling outside of the United States to get these therapies.”
The author goes on to explain that stem cell technology can be used in plastic surgery because “these therapies do not fall under the FDA’s ‘drug therapy’ classification and are therefore not regulated as such…”
The stem cells are harvested from the patient’s own fat through liposuction.
The use of stem cells derived from fat was employed in a recent clinical trial in Cincinnati. The trial is reported in The Scientific American article,”Stem Cells from Fat Used to Grow Teen’s Missing Facial Bones”, October 15, 2009: scientific american article.
“Stem cells so far have been used to mend tissues ranging from damaged hearts to collapsed tracheas. Now the multifaceted cells have proved successful at regrowing bone in humans. In the first procedure of its kind, doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center replaced a 14-year-old boy’s missing cheekbones—in part by repurposing stem cells from his own body.”
“The technique, should it be approved for widespread use, could benefit some seven million people in the U.S. who need more bone—everyone from cancer patients to injured war veterans.”
And, of course, Empty Nose Syndrome patients. For us, stem cell technology will need to advance to a stage where it can be applied to the creation of both bone and mucosa.
The fact that the technology is now being applied is a reason for hope.