All the cells we have in our bodies have specific purposes. Think about the big, strong cells that constitute our muscles, or the branched cells in our brain, the cells in our bones, or any other cell type. These highly specialized cells all derive from unspecialized, undifferentiated cells, called stem cells.
We can think of it as cells that have not decided yet what they want to be when they grow up. The possibilities are (almost) endless.
Under the right conditions, stem cells can be grown and expanded indefinitely in their undifferentiated state. They can also be differentiated in a dish to drive them to a specific identity. Thanks to it, researchers can learn about early human developmental processes that are otherwise inaccessible. They can also study disease mechanisms and establish strategies that can lead to therapies designed to replace or restore damaged tissues.
What Are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are cells with exceptional and unique features. They are unspecialized cells that can give rise to any cell type in the body. They are the foundation of every organ and tissue, and they serve as the repair system of the body.
The main feature of stem cells is a property called self-renewal. This means that they can divide over and over again to produce new cells and maintain the stem cells pool throughout life. When a stem cell divides it gives rise to two daughter cells: one will replenish the stem cell pool (replacing the mother cell), while the other is ready to become a specialized cell. The process through which a stem cell becomes a specialized cell is called differentiation.
Different Types of Stem Cells
Scientists classify it based on its potential to differentiate into several cell types.
- Totipotent Stem Cells (or omnipotent) can give rise to any cell type constituting an embryo (and therefore, an organism), plus the extra-embryonic tissues such as the placenta. The only totipotent stem cell is a fertilized egg.
- Pluripotent Stem Cells can give rise to any cell type of the body, excluding the placenta. Embryonic Stem Cells, forming the human embryo from day 3 to day 5, are pluripotent.
- Multipotent Stem Cells can differentiate into a limited number of cell types of a particular lineage. An example of it is hematopoietic stem cells, which can differentiate into any blood cells.
- Unipotent Stem Cells can only differentiate into a specific cell type. An example of the most abundant type of it in the body is skin cells. They can differentiate into and regenerate only other skin cells.
Adult Stem Cells
Throughout an organism’s life, populations of adult stem cells can serve as an internal repair system that regenerates replacements for lost cells due to normal physiological processes (for example, shedding of the skin’s layers) and injury (for example a cut) or disease. These can also be called tissue-specific stem cells or somatic stem cells. They have been identified in many organs and tissues such as bone marrow, blood, liver, skin, and skeletal muscle. These remain quiescent (non-diving) for long periods of time, and they only become active when they are needed. For example, the bone marrow contains special multipotent blood-forming stem cells, or hematopoietic stem cells, capable of giving rise to red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. However, hematopoietic stem cells cannot generate liver or lung, or skin cells, as other tissue-specific multipotent stem cells cannot generate red or white blood cells.
What Is Regenerative Cellular Medicine?
Regenerative cellular medicine is a form of regenerative medicine designed to repair damaged tissues in the body. It uses adult stem cells found in the blood called Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs). They are a promising non-invasive therapeutic option for various medical conditions such as orthopedic conditions. While they will not necessarily provide a cure for these conditions, they will help the body heal enough to improve the symptoms significantly. This will result in a substantial improvement in the quality of life of patients.
The most widely used form of regenerative medicine that has been around for decades is hematopoietic stem cell transplant, commonly known as bone marrow transplant, used to treat people with leukemia or other blood cancers.
What Are Allografts Containing Stem Cells?
An allograft is a transplant of cells and tissues that are genetically compatible with your own tissue. Regenerative cellular medicine uses allografts containing adult stem cells that help heal and decrease inflammation of damaged tissues (for example, knee, shoulder, or hip). Allografts are safe, directly available, and can be injected in a minimally invasive manner.
Patients receiving an allograft containing stem cells will benefit from a more rapid healing and faster recovery without the lengthy recovery and rehabilitation that follows surgery.
What Are The Benefits of Allografts Containing Stem Cells?
Using stem cells to treat medical conditions present several benefits. First, since they are carefully selected to be compatible, there is no risk of rejection. Secondly, they are able to reduce inflammation and modulate the immune system.
When put in the right environment, they are naturally pushed towards differentiation into the specific cell type that needs to be replaced. For example, if they are injected into a knee damaged by arthritis, they will differentiate into cartilage cells, helping the body heal itself.
Orthopedic conditions such as arthritis are where stem cells have been more studied and found to be very successful. They can enhance healing and reduce pain, increase functionality and lower the risk of future injury and pain.
Other benefits of it for regenerative medicine include the minimally invasive nature of the treatment. You’ll avoid surgery and its complications. In addition, there is no need to not use general anesthesia and there is a minimal post-procedural recovery time compared to other more invasive, surgical treatments.
Can Allografts Containing Stem Cells Repair Damaged Knees?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common condition causing debilitating knee pain. OA is characterized by damage to the cartilage covering the bones’ ends, leading to friction and resulting in pain, inflammation, and, ultimately, a loss of mobility and function.
Stem cell-containing allografts can help with damaged knees for several reasons. First, they will slow down the progression of the damage to the cartilage. Then, they will decrease inflammation and reduce pain. Taken together, these results will delay or prevent the need for a knee replacement surgery later on.
Does Regenerative Medicine Help with Shoulder Pain?
Like knee pain, stem cell allografts are also an effective way to treat shoulder or elbow pain due to injuries, or conditions such as OA, tendinopathy, ligament injuries, and other inflammatory conditions. The concept is the same: when injected in the right environment, they will reduce inflammation (which is what is causing pain) and will help the healing process, ensuring a faster recovery than other surgical treatments.
Why Does It Take So Long To Create New Stem Cell Therapies?
Before testing cells for human conditions, researchers must grow the right cell type and study them extensively in a laboratory, ensuring they are safe to proceed for clinical trials. It is also crucial that they are grown in special conditions called Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) conditions. GMP standards ensure that every batch of cells processed has the same properties and each person getting therapy gets equivalent treatment. Therefore, the path from the lab to the clinic is a long one.
At the moment, there are hundreds of clinical trials worldwide testing the safety and efficacy of stem cell treatments for a variety of conditions. We have seen that they have a great potential to treat a wide range of conditions, and the results from the ongoing clinical trial will provide more details for the road ahead.
What Are Our Patients Saying?
Our patients have seen excellent results. Here is one of our patient’s story from one of our clinics:
“I received a regenerative injection therapy in my knee a little over a month ago at Optimum Health. Over the past several years I have been in so much pain, and my knees were very swollen. The pain in my knees prevented me from getting a good night’s sleep and from playing tennis. It was very debilitating because it was hard for me to go from sitting to standing or up and downstairs. All of this took a major toll on my physical health. I had injection after injection with cortisone in my knees. Finally, they didn’t even alleviate the pain.
I was so desperate that two years ago, I had a total knee replacement in my right knee. It took me over one year to recover from the surgery. My knee still feels fake, and I have a limited range of motion. It was a horrible surgery and recovery. The worst part is that I am under 60 years old, and knee replacements only last 15 years before you have to do it again.
When I moved to Georgia, I started seeking a surgeon to do my left knee. I came across Optimum Health through my son Pete. I was desperately seeking a solution to be out of pain. When I found out about the use of stem cells to regenerate my knee, I asked my husband if I should do the stem cell injection. My husband said, “let’s give it a shot.”
I had the stem cell injection in my left knee instead of another total knee replacement. I pinch myself every day because I do not want to jinx anything. I can now walk-up steep hills in my garden. Sometimes I think “Oh I feel some discomfort. No wait…. the pain is not in my stem cell knee but in the knee where I had the knee replacement!” The crazy thing is all the cortisone injections and surgery didn’t really fix my knee issue. The stem cell injection is a long-term solution — regenerating my own cartilage. Really? Every day my left knee is getting better. In just a little over a month, my right knee is pain-free with no more swelling.
Thank you, Optimum Health, for offering this to me. I recommend regenerative cell injections to anyone who suffers from osteoarthritis. It was well worth the investment in my health. I feel blessed that America offers alternative health care solutions.”
Disclaimer: Results will vary for each individual. There are many factors that determine the amount of regeneration or repair an individual will experience. Optimum Health Rehab cannot guarantee a specific amount of regeneration or repair.
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Stem Cell Therapy