Stem Cells: Healing Your Own Wounds?
Reported August 26, 2011
MIAMI, Fla. (Ivanhoe newswire) -- The skin is the largest organ in the body
with amazing healing powers, but what if your wounds didn’t heal? That’s the
case for 6 million Americans suffering from chronic wounds that can take
months or even years to heal. Millions have no other choice besides
amputation. Now, a new stem cell therapy is helping change that.
Spending time with her grandchildren hasn’t been easy for Karen Marshall.
“I have had so many times that I’ve been down because of infection, and that
takes a while to clear up and everything,” Marshall told Ivanhoe.
Doctors diagnosed Marshall with CREST syndrome 10 years ago. It’s an
autoimmune disorder that makes it difficult for her to heal. A paper cut
took her nine months to close up. A deep leg wound took five years. After a
MRSA infection exposed her tendons around her ankles, doctors made a
“They say you can just continue doing what you’re doing forever and ever or
cut it off,” Marshall said. “I wouldn’t accept it.”
Instead, she found Evangelos Badiavas, Ph.D., M.D., associate professor of
Dermatology & Cutaneous Surgery from the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell
Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He enrolled
her in a study that takes stem cells from a patient’s own body and uses them
to treat their stubborn wounds.
“We have had patients who have not healed for more than 10 years and
achieved full healing,” Dr. Badiavas explained to Ivanhoe.
The cells are applied directly to the skin and injected locally.
“The very bright green areas are bone marrow cells that are entering into
the wounded area, and they’re incorporating into the muscle tissue as you
can see right here overlying some of the muscle,” Dr. Badiavas told Ivanhoe.
The hope is to achieve complete regeneration of the tissue.
“I don’t feel like I’m going to be like this forever,” Marshall told
The process could take more than a year.
Researchers at the University of Miami are still actively recruiting for
this study. Patients usually require between four and 16 treatments over the
course of six months. Another trial is also being planned to test the use of
donor bone marrow stem cells on patients with chronic wounds whose own stem
cells have been compromised.