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FAQ’s on Stem Cell Therapy

Regenerative medicine is the process of creating functional, living tissues to replace, heal, or repair tissue and organ function lost due to congenital defects, trauma, degeneration, or damage. This field holds promise of regenerating damaged tissues in the body by stimulating the structures to heal themselves. One treatment involved in regenerative medicine is stem cell therapy

What is a stem cell?

A stem cell is any cell that can differentiate (transform and discern) as well as replicate. A stem cell can multiply and turn into different kinds of tissues. In the human body, there are many kinds of stem cells. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are cells that form during the embryonic stage of life, when the embryo is in the uterus. These cells can change into any body part, and are considered pluripotent cells. There is much controversy surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells, because they are taken from discarded embryos. The Regenerative Stem Cell Institute does NOT use any of the controversial stem cell types. Another type of cell is the adult stem cell, which is also called a mesenchymal stem cell (MSC). The MSCs come from the mesodermal section of the body and can differentiate into cartilage, bone, connective tissue, muscle tissue, and nerve tissue. TRSCI utilizes mesenchymal stem cells derived from the stromal vascular fraction surrounding fat cells.

Where do stem cells come from?

Adult stem cells reside in one’s own body. The two most common sites for obtaining these cells are from the bone marrow and adipose (fat) tissue. These stem cells are considered multipotent, and they can only give rise to cartilage and bone tissue. When the stem cells are obtained from the bone marrow, they are cultured in a laboratory so they can multiply their numbers. Fat is loaded with MSCs, having thousands more per milliliter than bone marrow.

How do adult stem cells heal?

Adult stem cells (ASCs), also called progenitor cells, remain dormant (do nothing) until they have contact with some type of tissue injury. When injury or trauma occur, these cells become active and migrate to the area of injury to stimulate the healing process. Researchers believe ASCs send signals to damaged or injured body tissue and induce repair, or they can change into the type of injured tissue that is in need of repair.

What conditions, diseases, and problems are being studied using stem cells?

Treatment with stem cells depends on the type of degenerative condition or disease you have. One of the TRSCI’s knowledgeable specialist will evaluate your condition and determine if you are a potential candidate for stem cell therapy. The doctor will go over the risks and benefits before your procedure. Stem cell therapy is used to treat musculoskeletal problems, such as torn rotator cuffs, injured knee ligaments, joint dysfunction, degenerative spine disease, pulmonary conditions, diseases of the eyes, liver disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

Is the stem cell procedure FDA-approved?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to regulate the use of stem cells, simply because they come from the patient’s own body source. Regenerative cell medicine procedures fall under the category of a physician’s practice of medicine, which means the doctor is free to use this course of therapy, and the patient can consider it for a course of treatment.

What does potency and viability of stem cells mean?

Viability means “being alive,” which refers to the ability of stem cells to stay potent and vital throughout the processing, storage, and administration states. The rate of success for stem cells is measured by the number of living and viable stem cells counted after laboratory processing and expansion. In addition, viability involves the retrieval time of the cells after thawing is complete. The potency refers to the stem cells’ power, which indicates their strength after isolation and processing. Because stem cells are often frozen for storage, the potency is often affected.

What is stem cell banking?

Stem cells are stored (banked) for future use. Stem cell banking refers to the ability to cryogenically (frozen) store cells, which are maintained in a sterile and safe manner. The stem cell bank can store these cells for up to 21 years, but research shows that cells can be stored for much longer.

Does stem cell injection therapy work?

In a recent study, researchers explored the use of stem cells during knee joint distraction surgery. They found remarkable spontaneous cartilage repair when stem cells were evaluated. Multipotential mesenchymal stromal cells and hyaluronic acid, both in the synovial fluid, can result in rapid healing. In another study involving 30 patients with osteochondral lesions, stem cells were placed at the lesion site arthroscopically (surgical scope procedure). Researchers found that this treatment was beneficial and reliable for treatment at the 3-year follow-up.

Can stem cells reduce pain?

YES!

Resources

Baboolal TG, Mastbergen SC, Jones E, Calder SJ, Lafeber FP, McGonagle D. Synovial fluid hyaluronan mediates MSC attachment to cartilage, a potential novel mechanism contributing to cartilage repair in osteoarthritis using knee joint distraction. Ann Rheum Dis. 2015 May 6. pii: annrheumdis-2014-206847. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2014-206847.

Biehl JK & Russell B (2014). Introduction to Stem Cell Therapy. J Cardiovasc Nurs, 24(2), 98-105.

Buda R, Vannini F, Cavallo M, Baldassarri M, Luciani D, Mazzotti A, Pungetti C, Olivieri A, Giannini S. One-step arthroscopic technique for the treatment of osteochondral lesions of the knee with bone-marrow-derived cells: three years results. Musculoskelet Surg. 2013 Feb 19.

Koh YG, Jo SB, Kwon OR, Suh DS, Lee SW, Park SH, Choi YJ.Mesenchymal Stem Cell Injections Improve Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis. Arthroscopy. 2013 Jan 29. pii: S0749-8063(12)01884-1. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2012.11.017.

Manning CN, Schwartz AG, Liu W, Xie J, Havlioglu N, Sakiyama-Elbert SE, Silva MJ, Xia Y, Gelberman RH, Thomopoulos S. Acta Biomater. 2013 Feb 13. pii: S1742-7061(13)00065-2. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2013.02.008.