It has been nearly 18 years since the researchers and scientists of the international Human Genome Project first mapped our genetic blueprint. Their breakthrough efforts continue to enable numerous advances in the ways we can treat and prevent various diseases and conditions.
That’s because the Human Genome master roadmap allows us to better understand the genes that are associated with certain diseases—as well as the ways in which those genes may be altered and predispose someone to developing those diseases.
Building on that knowledge, a group of Stanford University scientists have discovered a biologic indicator of cartilage degeneration and inflammation in patients with arthritis, disc degeneration or sciatica. This molecular complex is called the Fibronectin-Aggrecan Complex (FAC).
A2M is a Master Protease Inhibitor
Having identified FAC, the Stanford team recognized how this biomarker could be used in conjunction with a naturally-occurring blood protein called Alpha-2 Macroglobulin (A2M) to improve the effectiveness of treatments for degenerative disc disease and arthritis.
A2M has the ability to stop the progression of joint cartilage and disc degeneration. Much like a levee along a rising river, it “holds back” and limits the potential for additional damage to these soft tissues. That is why this protein is known in medical circles as a Master Protease Inhibitor.
Now regenerative medicine specialists are able to use these two naturally occurring factors, FAC and A2M, to offer new hope to patients suffering from the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, sciatica and disc degeneration.
How it Works
Master protease inhibitor treatments are non-surgical. They are performed on an outpatient basis and patients generally go home within a few short hours of their treatment.
The first step is to measure the patient’s FAC levels. This is done through a simple blood test.
If the FAC levels are high enough, it indicates that the patient may benefit from A2M therapy. During this procedure, blood is drawn from the patient and placed in a device specially approved by the FDA to concentrate the blood’s A2M levels. The concentrated A2M is then reinjected into the patient at the precise area of degeneration, whether that be the knee, spine, shoulder, etc., where it begins to reduce inflammation and inhibit tissue degeneration.
The entire procedure is autologous, which means the A2M used comes from the patient’s own body and is reinjected into the patient. There are no donor products used. This reduces the risk of contamination or rejection.
Currently, this breakthrough treatment is only being offered by a select number of physicians across the country. By screening patients for FAC, these regenerative medicine specialists can offer targeted A2M treatment to those genetically predisposed to benefit from the injections. This is giving these patients new hope for relief of the pain and inflammation that comes from degenerative discs, sciatica and osteoarthritis.
Dr. Ethan Kellum and his practice is proud to offer A2M therapy to patients with elevated FAC levels to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with arthritic joint pain, disc degeneration or sciatica.