New Procedure Gives Tulsan A Chance To Walk Using His Own Stem Cells

Tuesday, December 16th 2014, 9:52 am
By: Dave Davis

It's a procedure that saved a Tulsa man from having knee surgery and his doctor says it's a revolution in medical care. 

Doctors used Michael Conte's own stem cells to heal his damaged knee in a treatment that's only recently become available in Oklahoma. 

To Michael Conte, breathing underwater is as much a part of his life as breathing fresh air. After all, he and his wife, both scuba instructors at Oral Roberts University were married under the sea in the Bahamas in 1992.

He works several jobs, is in the National Guard, mountain bikes, weight trains and walks. Michael is as active as a 49-year-old man as you'll find anywhere.

"I work at American, I'm in the military, I teach at ORU, I'm always on the go," said Michael Conte.

After a recent knee injury, you can imagine the disappointment when his doctor told Michael, he would have to slow down because he needed a knee replacement. So Michael started looking for other options. 

"I'm definitely too I mean young to have a knee replacement. And they're only good for like ten years. So it doesn't really solve anything," said Michael Conte. 

What he found was stem cell treatment and Dr. Venkatesh Movva in Tulsa. In a procedure, that until recently was only available in Europe, Regenexx uses a person's own stem cells to regenerate bad tissue in places like knees, hips, shoulders, ankles and elbows. 

"We take your own stem cells, the patient's own stem cells from a reservoir of stem cells. Because we all have stem cells in different reservoirs," said Dr. Venkatesh Movva. 

In one patient Dr. Movva removed stem cells from the hip. He then takes the stem cells, process them in a lab, and injects them back into the problem area, the same day 

In Michael Conte's case, his stem cells went into his deteriorating knee cartilage. But Dr. Movva says, these cells can morph into just about any tissue. 

"If we put it in a cartilage, it has the potential to become a cartilage tissue, or if we put it in a ligament, it can become a ligament tissue," said Dr. Venkatesh Movva. 

"They were able to use my own body to help heal my own body. So I just feel this is great," said Michael Conte. 

After the injection, Conte was back at work within four days. 

This procedure is currently not FDA-approved and is not covered by insurance. The FDA and Regenexx have gone to court over how it would be regulated. 

But if the FDA does eventually approve it, Dr. Movva believes the treatment's popularity will explode. 

"It is super exciting and we're just starting right now,so not only in the U.S. but throughout the world, it's kind of a revolution," said Dr. Venkatesh Movva. 

A revolution, that Dr. Movva says won't totally replace surgery in the worst cases, but will give people another option to get back to doing the things they love. 

The state of Oklahoma is getting involved in the research at the Oklahoma Center for Adult Stem Cell Research in Oklahoma City.