Stem Cell Therapy is revolutionizing how serious illnesses and diseases are being treated. There are a number of ways stem cells and regenerative tissues are being utilized in medicine today and at HyperFit MD, we leverage cutting edge practices to treat, combat and prevent diseases.
What is Regenerative Medicine?
Regenerative medicine consists of creating living tissues to repair or replace tissue or organ function lost due to disease, defects, age or damage. While regenerative medicine is a broad practice, much of the research is in stem cells. Stem Cells are foundation cells in everyone’s body that can alter themselves to become many different types of cells depending on what needs to be repaired or replaced in the body. This is a biological process that is continually occurring inside of each person. As we age, stem cells become older and fewer and their ability to multiply and repair becomes compromised.
Today, the most common types of elective stem cell therapies involve harvesting and reintroducing your own stem cells into your body. Typically these stem cells are derived from bone marrow or adipose (fat) tissue, processed, and then introduced back into your body by local injection or intravenously.
Bone marrow is a common source for stem cells since it is a fairly rich source. There are two types of stem cells found in bone marrow: Hematopoietic Stem Cells(HSCs) and Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs). HSCs are more universal and are compatible with several different blood types. HSCs have also been FDA approved for treatment with certain types of cancer, blood and immune disorders.
MSCs are extremely versatile cells that can turn into nearly any other cell besides blood or specialized cells. These stem cells have become a major topic of research to help treat and repair all types of ailments, injuries and diseases.
Stem Cell Research
While the available procedures are groundbreaking, stem cell research has only reached the tip of the iceberg. There are a number of innovative and potentially game changing ways in which stem cells can be used in medicine; however, the FDA disallowed stem cell research clinics to continue in December 2017. Getting FDA approval for further study is an arduous and costly process that could prevent some of these potential innovations to be allowed in the US for years.
In regard to Stem Cell procedures, the FDA makes one exception, with two requirements. The tissue must be minimally manipulated and promoted only for homologous use, meaning the tissue can’t be substantially modified, concentrated or processed and should only be meant to repair, reconstruct, replace or supplement existing cells. The FDA also prevents the manufacturer from claiming or promoting any kind of systemic effect, such as having a positive effect on many different parts of the body – even if it potentially does.
What About Umbilical Cord Tissue?
Umbilical cord tissue is a very rich source of stem cells. In addition to the cord blood, which is filled with HSCs, the Wharton’s Jelly that protects the umbilical cord is rich in MSCs. Wharton’s Jelly is found to have a higher concentration of MSCs than both adipose tissue or bone marrow. MSCs from umbilical tissue are also brand new, so they multiply faster, are healthier and live longer than older stem cells. The other benefit to umbilical MSCs are that they are compatible with any blood type, so no donor matching is required.
Additionally, umbilical cord tissue is harvested after a live birth, with no harm to the fetus. It is a non-invasive, simple process, which is another large benefit when comparing the procedure to bone marrow harvesting.
There are many interesting studies happening with umbilical cord tissue in the use of stem cell therapy and some exciting things are underway; however, it will still be years until the FDA will put it’s stamp of approval on its universal use.
If you’d like to learn more about the FDA’s policies on Stem Cells, you can read the FDA Regulatory Considerations on Stem Cells and the FDA’s Policy on Regenerative Medicine. If you’re interested in Stem Cell Therapy and Regenerative medicine procedures offered at HyperFit MD, please contact us, we’d love to consult with you!