New treatment for peripheral arterial disease

October 6, 2011 2:53:43 PM PDT
An estimated 8-million Americans suffer from peripheral arterial disease, which slowly cuts off blood flow to the lower part of the legs.

The condition also known as "p-a-d" is widespread and can be devastating. By the end of the day, another 400 people in the u-s will lose a leg to amputation because of it.

But doctors are now testing a new way to treat these patients, using their own stem cells.

Not long ago, Chuck Shreckengost thought this might be the last season he could fish with his grandson. Chuck has peripheral arterial disease and in 25 years he's undergone multiple bypass surgeries just to keep the blood flowing to his lower legs.

"At the point right now, I can't have any more bypasses. There have been so many bypasses done, they just can't do any more," he said.

As with thousands of other patients in the same boat, Chuck was running out of options, and facing a terrifying reality.

"A hundred and fifty thousand people a year in the United States have to undergo amputation because of this condition. It's a result of blocked blood flow, blocked arteries feeding to the legs. One of the new ideas that we are investigating is the use of a patient's own stem cells to stimulate the growth of new healthy blood vessels," Dr. Michael Go of the Ohio State University Medical Center said.

If the treatment works, webs of new vessels grow around the blockage and blood once again flows to the lower legs. Doctors keep a close eye on a small sore on Chuck's foot. After only a few weeks, the evidence that the stem cells are working to grow new blood vessels became obvious.

"Before I had the stem cell injections, I had a sore that came on my big toe and its pretty much healed up now," Shreckengost said.

Thanks to a novel approach of using a patient's own stem cells in an attempt to, literally, save life and limb.