Stem cell therapy is a form of regenerative medicine that utilizes the body’s natural healing mechanism to treat various conditions. Stem cells are being used in regenerative medicine to renew and repair diseased or damaged tissues, and have shown promising results in treatments of various orthopedic, cardiovascular, neuromuscular and autoimmune conditions.
Stem cells are present in all of us acting like a repair system for the body. However, with increased age sometimes the optimum amount of stem cells is not delivered to the injured area. The goal of Stem Cell therapy is to amplify the natural repair system of the patient’s body.
There are two major types of stem cells which are embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are stem cells derived from human embryos. They are pluripotent, which means they have the ability to develop into almost any of the various cell types of the body.
As the embryo develops and forms a baby, stem cells are distributed throughout the body where they reside in specific pockets of each tissue, such as the bone marrow, fat, and blood. As we age, these cells function to renew old and worn out tissue cells. These are called adult stem cells or somatic stem cells. Like embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells can also replicate into more than one cell type, but their replication is limited to a number of cells.
Adult stem cells are known as “progenitor” cells. This means they remain dormant or do nothing, unless they witness some tissue injury. Tissue injury turns them on. Therefore, when a person has a degenerative type problem, stem cells tend to go to that area of need and stimulate the healing process. It still remains unclear whether adult stems cells simply change into the type of injured tissue needed for repair, or whether they send out signals by way of cytokines that promote repair through and alternate mechanism. There are several animal models and human evidence that support these cells as having significant reparative capabilities.
The unique self-regeneration and differentiating ability of stem cells make them ideally suited for use in regenerative medicine. The use of embryonic stem cells is controversial as questions have been raised regarding the ethics of its procurement and usage. At North Texas Stem Cell Treatment Center, we use only adult stem cells for our stem cell therapies.
Adult stem cells can be obtained from the bone marrow and fat tissue. Specifically, the mesenchymal stem cells obtained from bone marrow and fat (adipose tissue) have the ability to replicate into cells that form the musculoskeletal system such as tendons, ligaments, and articular cartilage. Bone marrow derived stem cells can be obtained from certain areas of the skeleton such as the iliac crest of the pelvic bone or the tibia metaphysis by inserting a needle and extracting the stem cells from the bone marrow. This method can be painful and cause discomfort. Stem cells can be obtained from adipose tissue (Stromal vascular fraction or SVF) with far less discomfort that bone marrow while yielding millions more stem cells.