Neurologic Disorders and Stem Cells
No area generates more interest in stem cells than neurologic disorders. Many neurologic disorders have little or no treatment. Other neurologic disorders have treatments that are incomplete or have significant side effects. Stem cells represent one of the main areas of research for neurologic disorders. This article will cover the following:
What disorders can consider stem cell deployment?
Why consider stem cell deployment?
What are adult stem cells?
How are adult stem cells harvested from fat?
How are adult stem cells deployed for neurologic disorders?
What can I expect after deployment of adult stem cells neurologic disorders?
What is the future for adult stem cells for neurologic disorders?
Frequently Asked Questions
A: A complete list of neurologic disorders that have received stem cell therapy would be long and extensive. The list of disorders that commonly received stem cell therapy includes:
1. Traumatic brain injury Stem Cell Therapy for Traumatic Brain Injuries
2. Multiple Sclerosis Stem Cell Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
3. Peripheral neuropathy Stem Cell Therapy for Peripheral Neuropathy
4. Parkinson’s Disease Stem Cell Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease
5. Cerebral Palsy
6. Stroke Stem Cell Therapy for Stroke Patients
7. Alzheimer’s Disease Stem Cell Therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease
8. Lyme Disease
9. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
10. Muscular dystrophy (neuromuscular disorder)
11. Myasthenia Gravis (neuromuscular disorder)
12. Spinal cord injuries Stem Cell Therapy for Spinal Cord Injuries
13. Other neurodegenerative disorders
Peripheral neuropathy and spinal cord injuries are treated slightly differently and are discussed on their own pages: (link to peripheral neuropathy page), (link to spinal cord page). The other disorders all share similar deployment protocols for stem cells. We will discuss this below.
A: Many neurologic disorders have no effective treatment for reversing the injury or loss of function. Other diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease have treatments that have significant side effects. Although stem cell therapy is investigational, it may be able to help some disorders with little or no treatment options. Stem cells have the potential to repair areas of the nervous system that cannot repair themselves. Adult stem cells from your own fat have no chance of rejection or reaction. Studies have shown an excellent safety record for using your own stem cells. This combination of potential for benefit and high safety record make stem cells an attractive option for many neurologic disorders. See our blogs Understanding Adipose-Derived Stem Cells and What are Stem Cells?.
A: Stem cells are special cells in our bodies that have two important characteristics:
1. Stem cells have the ability to replicate. In other words, they can make new copies of themselves. Because of this ability, an infinite number of copies can be made from the same cell.
2. Stem cells also have the ability to become other types of cells. A good example of this is that research labs have used fat-derived stem cells to make cartilage muscle, skin and bone cells. This ability means that in theory the transformed can make an infinite number of the new cell type.
Stem cells can come from a number of sources including embryos, umbilical cord blood, and adult cells. Adult stem cells come from adult individuals, not embryos or umbilical cord blood. Stem cells obtained from mature adult tissues are referred to as adult stem cells. Adult stem cells are believed to have the potential to become any type of cell. See our blog Understanding Adipose-Derived Stem Cells
The two most commonly used sources of adult stem cells are fat and bone marrow.
Adult stem cells from fat are called adipose-derived adult stem cells. For most purposes, stem cells from fat are easier to obtain and more abundant than from other tissues. For more information on stem cells visit: https://stemcellrevolution.com
A: Harvesting adult stem cells from fat is very safe. The procedure has little discomfort and a fairly easy recovery. First, an area such as the stomach or leg is picked to remove the fat. We then take you to the procedure room and sterilize the area. A local anesthetic is then injected into the area. Fat is suctioned using a special syringe and cannula. Typically we suction about 50 ml (about 1 1.2 oz.) of fat.
Swelling and bruising are common following the procedure at the harvest site. Swelling and bruising typically resolve within 2-3 weeks after the procedure. Most patients receive a prescription for pain medications for use as needed. We give a dose of antibiotics before the procedure but no antibiotics are needed afterward.
Next, we take the harvested cells and use a centrifuge and incubator to do some simple processing. The processing isolates the adult stem cells from the other fat cells. The final product is called Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF). SVF obtained from fat can contain up to about 25 million adult stem cells from 50 ml of fat. SVF also contains a large amount of growth factors. Growth factors are chemical “text messages” our cells use to communicate with each other. After we have obtained the SVF, the next step is to deploy the SVF for your Parkinson’s disease.
A: Once the process of removing adult stem cells/SVF from fat is complete, we then deploy them for neurologic diseases. All types of neurologic diseases are treated with IV deployment. We often give a special IV medication known as mannitol which is believed to enhance adult stem cell/SVF penetration into the brain. We know that the damaged areas are releasing growth factors. These growth factors attract the adult stem cells/SVF to the area of the injury or disease activity.
Much attention has been focused on delivering the stem cells into the fluid around the brain known as the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Stem cells can be deployed directly into the CSF using a needle through the spine into the fluid around the spinal cord. It is also possible to place a port developed for chemotherapy into the fluid around the brain and inject stem cells via that route. At Innovations Medical we can provide for the cells injected through the spine. That procedure involves some additional equipment and an additional physician. Please contact us for more information
A: Currently we have enough data to show results for some neurologic diseases. Here is a short list of results:
It is important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has NOT approved the use of adult stem cells/SVF for any disorder including neurologic disorders.
Most patients are seeing improvements beginning 2-3 months following their adult stem cell/SVF deployment. It is reasonable to assume that a second (or more) adult stem cell/SVF deployment after 6-12 months would result in further improvement. However, the number of patients with a second deployment is too small to comment on the response.
A: Most experts agree that stem cells hold the greatest potential for treating and reversing the effects of many neurologic disorders. The type of stem cells best to use (embryonic, bone marrow or fat derived) and how to best utilize them is heavily researched and debated. Adult stem cells have a good chance of becoming the treatment of choice because of their safety, availability, and lack of controversy. It is likely that in the future, we will see further preparation done to the adult stem cells/SVF in order to prepare them to more readily become neurons. Over the next few years, we have some real hope in seeing therapy develop that could restore large amounts of function to patients with neurologic disorders.
Cost of Stem Cell Treatments
The cost of the initial treatment ranges from $5,000 to $10,000. The range in cost is dependent on the complexity of delivering the cells back to you. For example, spine conditions require multiple physicians to deliver the cells back to your body and this requires an increase in cost as multiple doctors are involved in the procedure. For many people the initial treatment is all that is needed; however, for some conditions, subsequent treatments may be required and these are done at a reduced fee.
Innovations Medical provides Stem Cell Therapy procedures at both our Dallas and Fort Worth practice locations. We hope we have answered the majority of your questions. If you have others or wish to schedule a consultation please call: (214) 643-8665