Stem Cells: Healing Your Own Wounds?

FRESNO, Calif.

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 Action News.

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 recommendation.

"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 Action News.

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 Action News.

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 Action News.

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.

Omar Montejo, Media Relations
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
(305) 243-5654

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