Millions of Americans suffer from chronic back pain which often results in limiting daily activities, missing work and trouble sleeping. Back pain is the sixth most costly medical condition in the United States. We have known for some time that platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are a highly effective, minimally-invasive treatment for people with disc tears. A new study by the Napa Medical Research Foundation proves that not all PRP is the same and that there are ways to administer PRP to create the best possible results in repairing disc damage. We are pleased to announce that our study, submitted to The Spine Journal several months ago, was accepted for publication.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Treatment of low back pain is challenging for a variety of reasons. Current therapies may not be effective in every patient…available novel therapies include bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapies for symptomatic facet arthritis, degenerative disk disease and sacroiliac pains.”
Napa Medical Research’s study looked at the role of and interactions between platelets, white blood cells and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in intervertebral discs using a porcine (pig) model. NMRF researchers determined that the therapeutic capabilities of MSCs are affected by different PRP preparations. In particular, we identified that the production of important proteins increases with leukocyte-poor PRP (LP-PRP) which helps stem cells repair damaged discs.
Dr. Marko Bodor explains the importance of this finding in the field of regenerative medicine:
The title of our paper is ‘Human mesenchymal stem cells promote hyaluronic acid synthesis in the pig discs;’ what that means is that we were able to take human cells from our iliac crest- the bones in the back of our pelvis – and isolate them and put them in a disc (in this case, we used pig discs) then stimulate them with platelet rich plasma (PRP) to grow and make a gel called hyaluronic acid. This gel gives bounce to our discs. We also wanted to know which platelet rich plasma was better.
After a year and a half of work, we were able to demonstrate that cells can grow inside the pig discs and be able to make hyaluronic acid. To our knowledge, this is the first time this has been demonstrated. We also found out that platelet rich plasma without white blood cells is better at stimulating the discs, and also allows the cells to migrate throughout the disc so they were able to populate two different regions of the discs which was not happening with platelet rich plasma with the white blood cells. This supports our clinical work where in the last five or six years we have been using platelet rich plasma without white cells with good results.
Our clinical outcomes show that approximately 75% of patients are 75% better, whereas other studies using PRP with white blood cells, show 50% of patients are 50% better.
Napa Medical Research is excited these findings will improve methods not only in the Bodor Clinic but, because of our publication, the medical community at large which will ultimately lead to a better understanding in the use of PRP as an alternative to traditional surgery in the treatment of injured spinal discs.