, 2011-08-07 14:37:59-04 - The
Texas Governor Rick Perry received an injection of his own adult stem cells during spinal fusion
surgery last month and wants his state to be a leader in the use of adult stem cells in medical
Perry and a state representative who has multiple sclerosis championed a healthcare bill that
created an adult stem cell bank in Texas.
A month after Perry signed that bill into law, his friend, Stanley Jones, MD, a Houston-based
orthopedist, performed spinal fusion surgery on the governor using Perry's own adult stem cells to
treat a recurring spinal injury, according to an article in the Texas Tribune.
The Tribune also said that Jones is a major advocate for adult stem cell therapy: Jones says he
was cured of his debilitating arthritis after receiving injections of his own adult stem cells in
Japan. Following the surgery, according to the Texas Tribune, Perry and Jones reportedly urged the
Texas Medical Board to hold a meeting to explore ways to regulate the procedure in Texas.
The procedure is similar to spinal fusion surgery using a piece of bone harvested from the
patient's own iliac crest to fuse two or more vertebrae. However, mesenchymal stem cells have a
higher stem cell concentration than what is found in the iliac crest.
Mesenchymal or adult stem cells differ from iliac bone cells because they are multipotent, meaning
they can turn into bone, fat, cartilage, muscle, and skin.
Nick Shamie, MD, president of the American College of Spine Surgery and an associate professor at
UCLA, said he used a similar method in patients and has had "numerous" examples of success.
In one case, Shamie treated a young woman who was suffering from painful vertebra slippage for 12
years. He used her own stem cells to fuse her spine, and two-and-a-half months after surgery she is
pain-free, he told MedPage Today.
And, he added that the idea of using one's own stem cells to cure an ailment -- "self healing
self" as he phrased it -- is a "very real possibility" and a "technology that the United States
should actively be pursuing."
"Although this is a promising technology for the future, at this point there is minimal evidence
that it is effective in humans," he said in an email. Still, others like Peterson are waiting to
see how the new technology evolves. "It will be interesting to see just what happens in this case
and hopefully many more cases to come," he said.