Sanford Health Home To New Stem Cell Clinical Trial

First Of Its Kind Clinical Trial In The U.S. Will Focus On Healing Shoulder Injuries

Sanford Health is home to a new FDA-approved clinical trial. The trial includes using the body’s natural healing process to treat shoulder injuries; the first of its kind in the United States.

“Most people will say it feels like their shoulder has a tooth ache. It’s a

dull achy pain that won’t go away,” said Sanford Health Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Jason Hurd. “A lot of times these patients can’t sleep at night. They have trouble working above shoulder height.”

Hurd says rotator cuff tears typically occur as people get older.

sanford-stem-cell-trial-1“As you get over age 45, the tendons aren’t as healthy and as strong as they were when you’re 20, and so over time, with everyday wear and tear, we’ll see small tears occur,” said Hurd. “This time of year we see a lot of patients who have slipped and fallen on the ice and torn their rotator cuff.”

Hurd says patients don’t have a lot of options: cortisone injections, physical therapy or surgery.

“We can fix them, but getting them to heal is another matter,” said Hurd.

The trial approved by the FDA is aimed at changing the way patients with partial tears are treated. The trial, which started last month, studies whether adipose-derived or fat-derived stem cells can safely repair injuries.

“What we want to see is through serial MRI’s if that gap closes, if there’s actual healing of tissue across the tear site,” Hurd said.

sanford-stem-cell-3The trial takes stem cells from fat that’s removed from the abdomen and separates them. The cells will then be injected in the damaged rotator cuff, known as cell therapy.

Hurd said, The body has built in potential to heal itself and I think, you know, we’re just on the cusp of finding some of the ways that that can occur.”

Hurd says clinical stem cell research is new, but has the potential to cure a lot of problems.

“It’s exciting because it’s untapped to this point.”

The trial, which will be conducted in Sioux Falls and Fargo, will feature 18 patients. Six will be given cortisone shots, and the other 12 the stem cell injections. They will then be monitored for a year. The collection and injection of the stem cells can be done in a clinic and

completed in the same day. Hurd says they’ve already received a lot of interest, even patients from other states.

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