The idea of regrowing bones may sound like something from a science-fiction novel for most people. Thankfully for the patients of Canadian surgeon, Dr. Cameron Clokie, bone regeneration is an incredible reality. As a professor, surgeon, and entrepreneur, Dr. Clokie helps patients to regrow lost sections of their jaws in order to streamline the healing process.
While previous methods of jaw reconstruction involved shaping and grafting preexisting bones to repair damaged segments, Dr. Clokie’s method encourages stem cells to grow in a gel that can be easily is easily molded while cold and hardens when warm.
The gel is sculpted into the damaged portion of a patient’s jaw, dissolving and allowing bone tissue to regrow in its place. This procedure not only drastically reduces healing time, but also allows the natural growth of blood vessels and other structures nearby.
Though this method has often been used in spinal reconstructive surgeries, Dr. Clokie was determined to help his patients by adapting it to his field of practice. With 30 years of experience in academic dentistry and the title of 1998’s Head of Maxillofacial Surgery, he was more than suited for this challenging task.
The protein used in this procedure, known as bone morphogenetic protien, or BMP, is found among other regenerative proteins in human bones. Discovered in the 1950s by Dr. Cameron Clokie’s mentor, Marshall Urist, BMP opened the doors to an entirely new field of regenerative medicine. Dr. Clokie was determined to bring this therapy to as many patients as possible, and has worked tirelessly to make that a reality.
Some challenges that Dr. Cameron Clokie initially faced included the cost of the procedure and the amount of stem cells required to complete it. The cost can be more than $6,000 dollars for each patient, and the use of BMP in jaw reconstruction is not often covered by insurance.
In order to reduce the cost and supply enough bone to collect the required cells, Clokie is researching a method of implanting the gene that creates the BMP into goat embryos, allowing it to be produced in their milk in large quantities.
Currently, Clokie is the CEO of Induce Biologics, and hopes to use this company in order to advance the use of BMP in regenerative medicine. He often delivers lectures and writes papers in this field, hoping to spread the knowledge to others that can aid their patients in recovery.