The Latest NewsNovember 2018 Newsletter
The NMRF Board of Directors and Staff welcome Gretchen De Baubigny, a resident of St. Helena and San Francisco broadly respected for her creativity, warmth, and lifelong belief in the power of philanthropy. She is an advocate for issues involving education and health, and looks forward to advancing the scope and breadth of the Foundation’s research in regenerative and minimally invasive medicine.
Her extensive experience in the nonprofit sector includes serving at the Founders, Board, Advisory and Committee levels in The Junior League of San Francisco, Children’s Cancer Research, ARCS, NARAL, Northern California Cancer Center, the SF Volunteer Bureau, the American Cancer Society, San Francisco General Hospital, the Women’s Museum and as a Trustee for the Santa Catalina School in Monterey.
As a former teacher, Gretchen founded the San Francisco School Volunteers (currently San Francisco Education Fund), a nonprofit dedicated to engaging community members as partners in public schools. Her excellence as a nonprofit leader has received national, state and local recognition. Gretchen will help to strengthen the continued growth and success of the Foundation’s efforts in the years ahead.
Professionally, Gretchen has served as a consultant to, and conducted seminars in, the field of speech communication for corporations and executives. She has appeared as a television personality, and has been a representative of the California fashion industry.
We are happy to introduce Gretchen as part of the NMRF family. We look forward to fulfilling our mission with the help of her broad knowledge and thoughtful insight of nonprofit board leadership.
For nearly 40 years, Eric Sandberg has managed chronic, often debilitating back pain on a daily basis. The St. Helena native began to experience back troubles as a tennis-playing teenager during the 1970s. With only rest, ice, and aspirin to address the painful symptoms, he often experienced days that would render him relatively immobile. When the pain was at its height, Eric could be found in his room flat on his back. Thankfully, that was then.
“Today, generally speaking,” Eric says, “I wake up without back pain. It’s not exactly 100% perfect all of the time, but it’s a remarkable difference given what I have experienced every other day of my life until now.”
After years of managing the pain with quantities of ibuprofen, seeking adjustment from chiropractors, and staunchly avoiding the recommended spinal fusion offered as the best possible course of action by multiple doctors, Eric met with Marko Bodor, MD. After a thorough review Dr. Bodor suggested a biologic regenerative treatment, specifically injection of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) into several of his discs. Although most patients have had good to excellent improvement, there was no guarantee of success. With every patient there is always the possibility that the pain is may be coming from a source other than the discs, or that it simply may not work. Dr. Bodor was clear that Eric would not experience noticeable improvement for at least 2 months and that improvement would continue for up to a year.
“I didn’t know quite what to expect,” Eric comments, “but I find I have a functioning back unlike what I have known before. This was definitely not a quick fix, but is has been the most impressive treatment I have experienced.
Drawn from a person’s own blood and processed via several centrifugation cycles, concentrated platelets in PRP function as nanorobots to pull together torn collagen and create a sticky fibrin matrix. The platelets then secrete growth factors to promote healing and repair of tears within the disc that have failed to repair themselves naturally. In an ongoing study at the Napa Medical Research Foundation, 278 patients who have received a single PRP injection into one or more cervical, thoracic, and lumbar discs are being tracked at regular intervals up to and beyond one year. The outcomes have been impressive, with 60-70% of patients experiencing good to excellent outcomes and returning to activities that had not been possible for years.
Time appears to be the critical element in terms of assessing results. Had Eric expected to be pain-free after a few weeks, he may have initially considered the PRP a failure. Dr. Bodor says that, “While we have found PRP to be very effective for disc-mediated pain, a problem which in the past required fusion surgery, it is less effective for facet pain and spinal stenosis, except for chronic facet pain that might have been caused by acute trauma.” For problems with spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spaces through which the nerves run, the NMRF is looking into the possibility that a combination of a spinal brace and PRP could potentially reverse some of the thickening of the ligaments that occurs as a result of instability and contributes to narrowing of the spaces around the nerves. For non-traumatic facet pain caused by aging and osteoarthritis, the NMRF is studying the use of bone marrow aspirate concentrate injections, which have been found to be effective for knee osteoarthritis.
Sandberg also emphasized the importance of physical therapy after the procedure. Attending regular sessions with a regenerative physical therapy specialist, Eric feels he was able to augment the healing process by strengthening key muscles and promoting increased mobility throughout the spine. Eric plans to continue his therapeutic exercise program in the years ahead.
The NMRF continues to work towards improved delivery and effectiveness of this promising regenerative treatment, both in the clinic and in the lab. We are fortunate to be able to share Mr. Sandberg’s journey to a place of increased mobility and improved quality of life, and invite you to read more of Our Stories on our website, www.NapaaMedicalResearch.org.
In the cutting edge of medical and scientific research, a small, non-profit organization being awarded a patent feels a lot like the story of David versus Goliath. US-based universities doing research in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical technology lead the field of patent awards. In 2017, the University of California was granted 524 utility patents, which is more than 200 patents ahead of the #2 recipient, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Under-funded by billions of dollars and outnumbered by hundreds of researchers, the Napa Medical Research Foundation seems an unlikely recipient of a patent award. But that is exactly what Head Research Consultant, Ryan Dregalla PhD is trying to achieve – the holy grail of the scientific research community, a utility patent.
Working with Marko Bodor, MD and Research Assistant, Yvette Uribe, BS, the NMRF developed a new process that is both “novel and undescribed”, according to Williams Intellectual Property. The “art,” or invention, that will be protected by the patent aims to treat platelets and optimize the growth factor yields in a bioactive state with unprecedented efficiency. With the potential to impact the fields of orthopedic and spinal medicine, as well as a number of surgical fields, this represents a major breakthrough.
Of paramount importance to the patent award process are the extensive sets of statistical data being produced by the NMRF research team. Careful mining of the vast amounts of information gathered through numerous clinical and laboratory studies has yielded critical data, which will effectively prove the newly developed process is both unique and functional ways, and will greatly increase the chances for success with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The multi-phase process is arduous and time-consuming. However, the potential return on investment of innovation, money and hard work will likely provide important long-term benefits for the Napa Medical Research Foundation. With an aim to support the mission of sharing research findings with the broad medical community, the patent process itself may not be profitable. However, the potential for device-specific applications may include licensure, which would provide revenue in the future, as well as recognize NMRF as a leading-edge research organization.
Currently funded entirely through charitable contributions, this research is done for the benefit of our local community. The discoveries made by the NMRF researchers lead to improved medical outcomes for residents of the Napa Valley and across the Greater Bay Area.
We are incredibly fortunate to have Marko Bodor, MD and his research team here in Napa. The leading edge work they are doing is helping to change lives by reducing pain, increasing mobility, and improving quality of life.
For adults and children across the Napa Valley, these advances in regenerative medicine are making a significant difference. From purchasing vital lab supplies and equipment to developing new techniques and expanding community outreach, we need your help.
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support the important work of Dr. Bodor and the NMRF researchers. Your gift is an investment in the future of regenerative medicine. Thank you in advance for your generous help and support.
or send checks made payable to Napa Medical Research Foundation to: 3421 Villa Lane, Suite 2C, Napa, CA 94558
NMRF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, EIN # 47-1567798. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
SELECT RESEARCH STUDY UPDATES
For more information about all our clinical and laboratory studies, please visit our Current Research page.
278 patients, with a total of 657 discs in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine, have received injections of Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to address disc degeneration. Patients are being tracked at 3 months and 1 year.
Dr. Tracy Hoeg, MD, PhD, and Assistant Professor at UC Davis Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation will assist the NMRF researchers in retrospectively analyzing data collected during the Intradiscal PRP Study. Using pre- and post-procedure Oswestry scales, they will describe how successful the procedure is and attempt to determine if there are certain patient types that seem to benefit more or less from this procedure.
ULTRASOUND GUIDED CARPAL TUNNEL RELEASE SURGERY
While most carpal tunnel release operations are done using an open or mini-open technique, Dr. Bodor and colleagues from the Mayo Clinic and at other settings across the US have been tracking outcomes using an ultrasound-guided technique and the Sonex device, which utilizes a 3 mm hook knife blade. “With ultrasound, the camera is on the outside, thus allowing for a 5 mm incision and use of the hand the next day”, says Dr. Bodor. Outcomes have been tracked using the QDASH or Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand scale, measuring symptoms and function before the procedure and 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and 1 year afterwards.
MEETING NEW FDA CRITERIA
Recent changes made by the US Food and Drug Administration require the implementation of new quality controls for in-house lab procedures. Our research team has successfully updated their standard operating procedures to reflect these new guidelines through a number of measures including:
- Employee training logs for each in-house procedure performed in the clinical lab
- Modifications to employee personal protective equipment
- Record keeping of disposables used in each case
- Laboratory equipment cleaning logs
- Environmental monitoring for quality assurance of laboratory equipment
Reduce Pain. Increase Mobility + Function. Improve Quality of Life.
All the research conducted through the Napa Medical Research Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is fully funded through generous donations received from individuals and family foundations.