What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are special cells that can do two very important things most cells cannot:
- Stem cells can multiply.
- Stem cells can turn into other types of cells or tissues.
These things are very important because they mean that stem cells have the potential to heal many types of damaged tissue. In fact, most of the healing that takes place in our bodies is done by stem cells. When we cut our finger, the damaged cells release special chemicals called GROWTH FACTORS. Growth factors activate dormant stem cells in the surrounding tissue that then produce new skin cells and heal the wound. Once it is healed, the stem cells again become dormant. Enhancing the body’s ability to activate stem cells and deliver them to an injury has a tremendous potential to heal injuries and diseases that have resisted other treatments.
Where Can We Obtain Stem Cells From You?
There are some stem cells in almost every tissue in the body. In order to obtain them in numbers high enough to treat, two things have to be present:
- The tissue or area has to be easily accessible.
- The tissue or area has to have a large enough number of stem cells to enable collecting or harvesting enough to receive a therapeutic response.
The first area found in adults with these criteria was bone marrow. Stem stems from bone marrow are called hematopoietic stem cells (HSC). Since these were first discovered and isolated, many studies have been done and some treatments developed. More recently, fat has been found to have large numbers of stem cells. Fat is easily harvested under local anesthesia using a syringe for liposuction. Fat produces a much larger number of stem cells from a single procedure than bone marrow. A typical bone marrow stem cell harvest yields around 60,000 stem cells. A single 25 milliliter syringe of fat can yield 10-30 million stem cells or more. Studies have shown that the two types of cells have very similar characteristics and therapeutic potential. This makes stem cells from fat the easiest and most likely source for future stem cell usage.
Where Else Can We Obtain Stem Cells?
The simple answer is NOT from you. We can get stem cells from someone else. These are called allogeneic stem cells. These most commonly come from new born infant sources in the form of umbilical cord blood, umbilical cord tissue or amniotic fluid. It is important to note that amniotic fluid is rich in growth factors but contains very few stem cells. Some controversy exists over whether cells from a younger individual can promote more healing than cells from an older person. However, there is no controversy over some of the concerns surrounding use of stem cells from other individuals.
Concerns about using other people’s cells include:
- Possible transmission of unknown genetic disorders from the infant donor
- Possible transmission of infectious disease from the donor. This is a greater concern when the stem cells come from a foreign country (a common occurrence).
- Possible rejection of some else’s cells by your immune system. Even infant cells can be rejected by our immune system. Many university centers around the world do the same tissue matching for umbilical cells as they do for kidney transplants to avoid this problem.
- Unknown risk of having someone else’s cells growing in your body for many years.
Finally, some suppliers of umbilical stem cells pool or mix the cells from multiple individuals together. This exposes the patient to multiple individuals – be sure to ask if the umbilical cells you are receiving are single donor.
Your Own Stem Cells Matter
Innovations Stem Cell Center has been performing stem cell treatments in North Texas since 2013. Together with the Cell Surgical Network, we have now performed over 12,000 treatments.
You can get your own stem cells or you can get them from someone else.
But why do your own cells matter?
- Your cells don’t cause a reaction or rejection when given back to you.
- Your cells are best at regulating your immune system.
- Cells such as umbilical or cord blood cells from someone else, expose you to possible genetic and infectious diseases.
- Umbilical and cord blood cells are often pooled from many people are mixed together.
Harvesting your own cells from fat is simple, fast and nearly painless. At Innovations Medical we believe your own cells matter.
What is the Difference Between PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) and Stem Cells?
It is a common misunderstanding that PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) is a stem cell product. The truth is PRP has no stem cells. PRP contains a large number of growth factors. Growth factors are the chemical messengers our cells use to talk with each other. Platelets help stimulate blood clotting and tissue healing. In performing these functions they release a large number of growth factors. These growth factors tell our cells and immune system what to do to promote healing. PRP concentrates platelets to magnify this healing function. PRP can help with would healing, joint and tendon problems, hair restoration and other areas. It is used cosmetically to perform rejuvenating facials, improve wounds and improve the survival of transferred fat. But remember, even though PRP can be “good stuff” it is NOT STEM CELLS. We do offer PRP at Innovations Medical for joint, tendon and other treatments.
Who is a Good Candidate for Stem Cell Therapy?
Most patients who are medically stable enough to come into the office may be candidates for stem cell therapy. Patients with active cancer or major infection are not candidates for stem cell therapy. Some medications such as anticoagulants (blood thinners) are better to stop for 2-4 days around the procedure. However, blood thinners often can be used with caution. Check the section under your disorder of concern for more information about who is a good candidate.