MID-CITY — Are you hurting to get rid of that pain in your neck or the ache in your lower back?

If so, Saint John’s Health Center could help. Doctors at the Mid-City hospital are looking for candidates to participate in clinical studies for lumbar and cervical fusion procedures using adult stem cell technology instead of bone grafts.

Saint John’s is just one of eight sites in the U.S. to participate in this round of clinical studies using adult stem cells, or NeoFuse, for spinal fusion treatments, said Greg Harrison, spokesman with the hospital. The goal of the studies is to demonstrate the safety of using allogeneic, or “off the shelf,” stem cells and provide information on the benefits of stem-cell therapy.

The studies have been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Patients in the NeoFuse study group will receive an implantation of either 25 million or 75 million NeoFuse adult stem cells mixed with a carrier graft material between the bones that require fusion. The control group will receive a bone graft from the patient’s own hip.

Back and neck pain is said to affect more than 80 percent of Americans some time in their lives and accounts for more sick leave and disability than any other medical condition. More than 500,000 spinal fusion procedures for chronic lower back and neck pain are performed annually in the United States. Harrison said. The main form of treatment is using hip bone grafts. NeoFuse, by Melbourne, Australia-based Mesoblast, aims to eliminated the need for a second procedure to harvest the patient’s own bone, reducing risks of infection and chronic pain.

“We are very excited about being selected as a site to participate in this new study,” said Dr. Hyun Bae, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Saint John’s.

Those interested in the clinical trials can contact Janice Kim at (310) 248-7348. To learn more go to www.clinicaltrials.gov.

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