In a landmark clinical study, scientists of the RNL Stem Cell Technology Institute have demonstrated that the transplant of patients’ own (“autologous”) stem cells can dramatically improve the ability of plastic surgeons to repair diseases. In the September 2012 issue of the prestigious international plastic surgery journal Annals of Plastic Surgery (69:3), researchers published their controlled study of the power of stem cells, describing a breakthrough with patients who have Parry-Romberg Syndrome. More than 200,000 have this tragic and debilitating disease in the U.S. alone. Their prognosis without treatment is the slow loss of control, then paralysis of the face and in some cases the mouth and even eyes. Most patients with Parry-Romberg begin to experience these symptoms between the age of five (5) and fifteen (15) years of age. There is, says the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, “no cure.” To date, treatments have involved waiting until the disease slows and then transplanting fat into patients’ faces, strengthening bones in their faces, and using microvascular surgery to “install” a free flap of skin.
However the only solution for patients with this disorder, and those with similar disorders, the grafting of fat, is at best a temporary solution, which alleviates none of the pain felt by these patients, and can in fact result in an increase in pain when fat grafts fail. So, plastic surgeons, engineers and others have searched for years for a solution with longer term effects, or even a way to fight the disease’s symptoms in a sustained way.
Dr. Kyeung-Suk Ko and Dr. Jong-Woo Choi led a research team under Dr. Jeong-chan Ra of RNL Stem Cell Technology Institute that may have uncovered, for the first time, just such a tool for plastic surgeons: patients’ own stem cells. In their controlled study, the team painlessly removed a few ounces of fat from one group Parry-Romberg Syndrome patients, harvesting stem cells from these patients’ fat, cells that are genetically identical to the patient’s cells throughout their body and that have well documented abilities to “home in” on inflammation and disease and have dramatic effects on patients’ symptoms and even disease itself. In this study, those patients in the “treated” group received stem cells magnified into the millions (using the team’s patented technology whose safety has been well published). These patients’ outcomes, adding stem cells to standard-of-care therapies, were measured against traditional microfat grafts in the control group receiving no stem cells.
In what many have described as a revolutionary finding, the team found that those patients who received their own “adult” mesenchymal stem cells saw unprecedented improvement in the effectiveness of therapies. Fat grafts that are often “resorbed” into patients’ skin shortly after they are placed were 50% less likely to disappear when provided alongside stem cells (20.59% vs 46.81%).
This study was approved by the Korea Food and Drug Administration, the institutional IRB of the Asan Medical Center, and peer-reviewed prior to acceptance in the renowned plastic surgery publication under the title: “Clinical application of human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells in progressive hemifacial atrophy (Parry-Romberg Disease) with microfat grafting techniques using three-dimensional computed tomography and three-dimensional camera.” Authors and investigators included: Koh KS, Oh TS, Kim H, Chung IW, Lee KW, Lee HB, Park EJ, Chung JS, Shin IS, Ra JC, Choi JW. Media and others may access the article at http://journals.lww.com/annalsplasticsurgery/Abstract/2012/09000/Clinical_Application_of_Human_Adipose.22.aspx . Its National Library of Medicine ID is PMID:22878516.
Dr. Ra, senior author, said, “We believe that this is a big step for Parry-Romberg Syndrome patients and expect to see autologous stem cell transplantation as standard of care for their treatment. The next step is to test the efficacy of the many ways in which stem cells from adults’ own bodies will expand the quality of life and even identify cures for many rare diseases.”