What is regenerative medicine?
Regenerative Medicine is the process of creating living, functional tissues to repair or replace tissue or organ function lost due to damage, or congenital defects. This field holds the promise of regenerating damaged tissues and organs in the body by stimulating previously irreparable organs to heal themselves. (Wikipedia)
What are the tools of regenerative medicine?
Traditionally, we have used various medications and hormones to limit disease and help the body repair itself. For example, hormone replacement therapy has, in many cases, shown the ability to more optimally help the immune system and thus help us repair diseased or injured tissues. Genetic research is an evolving area where we will eventually learn and utilize more ways of specifically dealing with gene defects causing degenerative disease. Stem cell therapy is another rapidly evolving and exciting area that has already shown considerable promise in treating many degenerative conditions.
What is a stem cell?
A stem cell is basically any cell that can replicate and differentiate. This means the cell can not only multiply, it can turn into different types of tissues. There are different kinds of stem cells. Most people are familiar with or have heard the term “embryonic stem cell.” These are cells from the embryonic stage that have yet to differentiate – as such, they can change into any body part at all. These are then called “pluri-potential” cells. Because they are taken from unborn or unwanted embryos, there has been considerable controversy surrounding their use. Also, while they have been used in some areas of medicine – particularly, outside the United States – they have also been associated with occasional tumor (teratoma) formations. There is work being conducted by several companies to isolate particular lines of embryonic stem cells for future use.
Another kind of stem cell is the “adult stem cell.” This is a stem cell that already resides in one’s body within different tissues. In recent times, much work has been done isolating bone-marrow derived stem cells. These are also known as “mesenchymal stem cells” because they come from the mesodermal section of your body. They can differentiate into bone and cartilage, and probably all other mesodermal elements, such as fat, connective tissue, blood vessels, muscle and nerve tissue. Bone marrow stem cells can be extracted and because they are low in numbers, they are usually cultured in order to multiply their numbers for future use. As it turns out, fat is also loaded with mesenchymal stem cells. In fact, it has hundreds if not thousands of times more stem cells compared to bone marrow. Today, we actually have tools that allow us to separate the stem cells from fat. Because most people have adequate fat supplies and the numbers of stem cells are so great, there is no need to culture the cells over a period of days and they can be used right away.
How do adult stem cells heal?
These adult stem cells are known as “progenitor” cells. This means they remain dormant (do nothing) unless they witness some level of tissue injury. It’s the tissue injury that turns them on. So, when a person has a degenerative type problem, the stem cells tend to go to that area of need and stimulate the healing process. We’re still not sure if they simply change into the type of injured tissue needed for repair or if they send out signals that induces the repair by some other mechanism. Suffice it to say that there are multiple animal models and a plethora of human evidence that indicates these are significant reparative cells.
What diseases and problems can be treated?
This will depend on the type of degenerative condition you have. A specialist will evaluate you and discuss whether you’re a potential candidate for stem cell therapy. If after you’ve been recommended for treatment, had an opportunity to understand the potential risks and benefits, and decided on your own that you would like to explore this avenue of treatment, then you can be considered for treatment. Of course, even though it’s a minimally invasive procedure, you will still need to be medically cleared for the procedure.
Is our procedure FDA-approved?
NO. However, Center for Regenerative Cell Medicine’s procedures fall under the category of physician’s practice of medicine, wherein the physician and patient are free to consider their chosen course of treatment. The FDA does have guidelines about treatment and manipulation of a patient’s own tissues. At Center for Regenerative Cell Medicine we meet these guidelines by providing same day treatment with the patient’s own cells that undergo very minimal manipulation and are inserted during the same procedure.
Does Center for Regenerative Cell Medicine use any embryonic stem cells?
No. Only adult mesenchymal stem cells are used. These cells are capable of forming bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, ligaments, blood vessels, and certain organs. Embryonic stem cells are associated with ethical considerations and limitations.