Stem Cell Therapy is relatively new. Stem cells are unspecialized (undifferentiated) cells that are characteristically of the same family type (lineage). They retain the ability to divide throughout life and give rise to cells that can become highly specialized and take the place of cells that die or are lost. Stem cells can both renew themselves and create new cells of whatever tissue they belong to. Stem Cell Therapy is capable of regeneration, repairing, replacing and maintaining or enhancing organ function that has been lost due to:
- Congenital Abnormalities
These stem cells for therapeutic use in humans most commonly come from bone marrow or adipose (fat) tissue. Some studies are showing fat cells are better than bone marrow cells in regenerating damaged cartilage such as seen in osteoarthritis of joints and degenerative discs. Stem cells, from your own fat has been shown in recent studies to facilitate cartilage growth in knee joints better that bone marrow derived stem cells (1).
The newest use of stem cells from the patient’s own fat is a unique procedure using Lipogems, which is a fat harvest and then a fat transfer to the involved joint. This allows blood vessels to be maintained in the fat that have Pericytes on them which are the precursors to all stem cells. When injected in a joint the Pericytes are released from the blood vessels and produce stem cells with are then activated into regenerative stem cell that can call on cells from around the patient’s body to bring the healing cells necessary to stimulate the healing process.
These stem cells have 2 main functions, immunologic and regenerative. Currently if you go to https://clinicaltrials.gov/ there are at least 426 studies underway for all types of diseases.
If you are considering Stem Cell Therapy, remember that larger studies need to be done to determine if the outcomes justify the cost. Dr. Geraci completed a pilot study as the principal investigator looking at the efficacy and safety of Stem Cell Therapy in peripheral joints for osteoarthritis. This study was completed in October, 2015 and showed that it was both safe and efficacious in regenerating cartilage growth in the knee at 6 months on an MRI compared to the MRI done before treatment. MRI scans will be done at 1 and 2 years post treatment.