Holy Name clinical trial tests the healing power of stem cells

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

Sixteen months ago, Bob Masterson began a Holy Name Medical Center clinical trial that he hoped would grow more arteries to restore blood flow to his legs so the wounds on his toes would heal. If it failed, he risked the possibility of amputation.

Masterson had a a 67% chance of getting the FDA-fast-tracked Pluristem Therapy placenta stem cell injections instead of getting a placebo.

“In essence what we’re injecting is going to recruit the development of blood vessels, cells that are involved in the healing of wounds,” said Dr. John Rundback, director of the Interventional Institute at the medical center.

When getting the procedure last year, Masterson says he had no idea whether he was getting the placebo or the real thing, but the results from regular visits to the hospital seem to indicate it was the latter.

Doctors want to improve National Institutes of Health numbers, which find half of all amputees die within five years, with new therapies that could come from the clinical trial of 246 patients at six hospitals.

Masterson says he’s grateful for the results but doesn’t consider the apparent reversal of his condition a miracle.

“But, I see it as a progress in medicine,” he said. “Cause over my years, I’ve seen a lot of people, especially with us who have diabetes, losing their limbs like it was nothing. And this gives them hope.”