Will Stem Cell Injections Help Me?
Obtaining placental stem cells has given the medical field new ways in healing patients at a level no medication or surgery can provide. You might be wondering the following: What are stem cells? Why are they a big deal? When is it right to get stem cell injections? In order to understand how stem cells can help and if injections are right for you, we need to understand what they are and their purpose.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are a body’s main cells that develop different cell types while we are in the womb to provide us everything we need at birth: heart, skin, lungs, eggs, sperm, brain and more. These cells will continue to support us as we grow by promoting new development of healthy cells and to help repair our bodies. When a stem cell splits, the new cell will either remain as another stem cell or a cell with a specialized function, such as a brain cell or a red blood cell.
One of the most versatile stem cells are placental stem cells, which come from embryos that are three to five days old. During this time, the embryo has about 150 cells. The reason placental stem cells differ from adult stem cells is because they are pluripotent, meaning they divide into many stem cells or become anytype of cell whereas adult stem cells are found in smaller numbers with a limited ability of creating various cells for our body.
Stem Cell Therapy.
Stem cell therapy, or regenerative medicine, uses stem cells or their byproducts to stimulate our body’s response to repairing diseased, dysfunctional or injured tissue. Researchers grow stem cells in a lab and manipulate them into specific types of cells which can be implanted or injected into a person.
Each day our cells go through a degenerative and regenerative process: As older cells die, our stem cells create new ones in their place. However, if tissues are injured the cells will die off faster than they can be replaced, making the effected parts of our bodies weaker over time. This is when stem cell therapy becomes extremely valuable. Stem cell therapy can provide relief for those whose joints become less flexible without the need to undergo surgery.
Let’s say a patient has arthritis where movement in the joints have a limited range of motion and become painful, for example. This patient can be injected with stem cells so that their body may begin generating the cells the body requires for repairing the cartilage to improve the joint’s flexibility and stop the pain.
Stem Cell Research.
Stem cells were brought to our attention by Martin Evans, who was the first to identify placental stem cells in mice back in 1981. After this time, scientists have begun studying stem cells more thoroughly to understand their functions and the importance they play on the human body. In 1998, a way of isolating human placental stem cells was recognized and grown in a lab, making it possible to run more tests and explore a deeper understanding of their properties.
As stem cell research gains even more exposure, the opportunities stem cell therapy brings seem to destroy the boundaries of modern medicine and surprise the medical field. The first person to receive a medical treatment from human placental stem cells was in 2010, where they suffered a spinal injury. Since then, more patients have been involved with the treatment for their spinal injuries and have shown improvement in motor and sensory function. Two years later, human placental stem cells showed promise to treat blindness after two patients with eye degeneration went through stem cell therapy, resulting in improved vision within four months. One patient suffered from Stargardt disease while the other patient had macular degeneration. This in itself is a huge breakthrough as macular degeneration was seen to be irreversible.
Now in 2018, and a study published by Dr. Heringou on patients with knee pain arthritis reveals stem cell therapy is better, and safer, than knee replacements. (Heringou, 2018)In this study, he follows 30 patients with bilateral knee osteonecrosis: All patients received traditional knee replacement in one knee and bone marrow stem cells in the other knee. Both groups had a similar decrease in pain scores; however, there was a 4% increase in the knee cartilage and a 3 cm cubic area decrease in the bone arthritis in the stem cell group. Out of the 30 patients, a total of 21 were satisfied with the stem cell therapy whereas only 9 were satisfied with the knee surgery.
After having knee surgery, 30% of the patients had a blood transfusion and 15% developed blood clot in their legs, whereas no transfusions were needed nor were any blood clots developed in the stem cell group. Overall, the study concludes stem cell therapy has provided patients with similar relief to total knee replacement surgery with less complications, less revisions and more satisfaction.
From these findings, we realize stem cells are promising in helping those with osteoarthritis as they can successfully rebuild cartilage in the joints. As for improving the vision for patients with vision loss, it also recognizes stem cell therapy to have potential in repairing other advanced cases of damaged tissues that seemed to be irreversible even with surgery.
Where do placental Stem Cells Come From?
Placental stem cells are the most desirable for stem cell therapy because of their flexibility. In order to obtain these cells, eggs must be fertilized in a fertilization clinic without being implanted in a woman’s uterus. All donors donate their stem cells with informed consent to laboratories who will store them in special solutions in test tubes, or petri dishes, that allow the stem cells to live and grow.
Although adult stem cells are not as flexible as placental stem cells, they can still be adaptable. However, they are found to have a higher chance of containing abnormalities from environmental hazards or from errors the cells naturally attained during replication.
Is stem cell therapy right for you?
Stem cells help correct parts of organs that do not work properly by rebuilding damaged tissue. For those who suffer from joint pain or osteoarthritis, it can be a good choice to decrease inflammation and halt the progression of arthritic damage as it aids you in rebuilding cartilage in a more natural way.
Heringou, D. (2018). Subchondral stem cell therapy versus contralateral total knee arthroplasty for osteoarthritis following secondary osteonecrosis of the knee. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29589086