Have Questions About Stem Cell Therapy? Here Are Answers!
News about stem cell therapy abounds these days, and for good reason. The use of stem cells in treating a wide array of ailments, injuries, and chronic conditions is taking the medical community by storm, with more and more specialists and physicians taking advantage of the regenerative medicine revolution. Do you have questions about stem cell therapy? You’re not alone!
Perhaps you’re thinking about stem cell therapy for yourself or for a loved one, and want to know if stem cells can treat your condition. The list of safe and effective stem cell treatments is growing exponentially, so the chances are high that you are an excellent candidate for treatment. Whether you’re seeking answers about stem cell therapy for a physical injury like back pain, one that is neurologically based like traumatic brain injury (TBI), or want to know about stem cell options for chronic conditions like an autoimmune disease or arthritis, new doors in regenerative medicine are continually opening.
The National Stem Cell Institute gets questions very much like yours every day. So the doctors and medical professionals at NSI have compiled ten of the most frequently asked questions they hear from patients. Let’s take a look:
The 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Stem Cell Therapy
Q1 What exactly are stem cells?
Stem cells are the wellspring from which all other cells of the body develop. Stores of stem cells remain in the body throughout life. What is unique about stem cells is what experts call “differentiation.” This means that stem cells can become whatever type of cell the body needs. In their “stem” form, these cells have no specific function other to await their marching orders to become the cells of muscles, bones, cartilage, brain, nervous system, blood, and more.
When a wound needs healing, when damage brought on by disease needs repairing, when inflammation needs to be reduced, when new cell growth is essential, it is the stem cell that receives the call to action. And there is much more about stem cell function than even this.
Q2 Do all stem cells come from embryos?
No. Decades ago, researchers discovered that these cells circulate throughout the body all through life. One of the most exciting things about stem cell therapy development is that successful, highly effective treatment can and is done using “adult” stem cells. These cells originate in the bone marrow, but they are also abundantly stored in the fatty layer that lies just beneath the skin.
These are known as adipose stem cells. They are not only abundant, they are also exceptionally potent. Another advantage researchers learned about stem cell storage in the fatty layer, known as “adipose fat,” is that they are very easily accessed. This makes adipose stem cell therapy minimally invasive and far easier on the patient than stem cell harvesting procedures of the past.
Q3 What conditions can be treated with stem cells?
A large variety of adipose stem cell therapies are already FDA guidelines-compliant and available in the United States. To physicians and medical professionals, one of the most exciting things about stem cell treatment development is that it is continually growing. Treatments already in practice today include, but are not limited to:
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Back Pain/Injury
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
- Joint Pain/Injury
- Kidney Conditions
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
- Spinal Cord Injury
Researchers and doctors are also excited by the promise they see about stem cell use for some of the most challenging diseases and chronic conditions facing modern medicine. Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), autism, lyme disease, leukemia, and lymphoma are just a few that are showing great potential in ongoing research and clinical trials.
Q4 A lot is said about stem cell differences. Aren’t they really all the same?
Bone marrow and adipose fat are the two most commonly used in therapy. But it is the adipose-derived stem cell that has driven the impressive advancement and variety of stem cell treatments that is being seen today. There are two particular qualities about stem cell therapies that use adipose-derived cells that set them apart.
- The fatty tissue known as adipose fat stores a remarkable abundance of stem cells. This means that the sample harvested from the patient can be far smaller than one harvested from bone marrow. According to an article on the site Stem Cells Translation Medicine, adipose tissue contains approximately a 500-fold higher frequency of stem cells.
- Adipose stem cells are especially potent. For example, when it comes to secreting cytokines –which are the cell-signaling molecules that regulate the immune system- adipose-derived stem cells outperform bone marrow-derived cells.
These two qualities about stem cell methods using adipose-derived cells make for a minimally invasive, far more comfortable treatment that can be performed on an out-patient basis. An advanced medical clinic like the National Stem Cell Institute will exclusively use adipose-derived stem cells.
Regardless of the condition being treated, the basic procedure is to harvest a small sample from the patient’s own fat stores. Usually, the tissue sample is taken from a thigh, a buttock, or the abdomen. A local anesthesia at the site where the sample is taken is all that is needed.
In fact, general anesthesia is never needed for stem cell procedures as practiced at NSI. Because of the ease of harvest, the therapies are done on an outpatient basis. There’s no need for overnight hospital stays, and there is no after-procedure down time. Patients can return to their usual daily activities as soon as they leave the clinic.
Q5 What happens during a stem cell procedure?
First, of course, the sample is harvested after a local anesthetic is applied to the area where the sample will be taken. Once this step is complete, the sample is processed in-house through centrifugation. Keeping all steps of the process fully in-house is one of the essentials about stem cell treatment that ensures top, medical quality.
Once the stem cells are separated from the other components of adipose fat, they are highly concentrated. This high concentration of adipose-derived stem cells becomes the basis of a potent serum which is injected back into the patient. From harvesting to processing to the injection, stem cell therapy is completed in a matter of a few hours.
Stem cells become whatever type of cell the body needs
The real excitement about stem cell therapy among medical professionals and patients alike has to do with stem cells’ impressive ability to become whatever type of cell the body needs. Once stem cells are injected, they rush to the area or areas of the body in need of repair, re-growth, and/or rejuvenation. For example, in the case of injury they flow to the tear or break. There, they dramatically boost the stem cell population already within proximity. Tissue regeneration begins. Stem cells are also capable of producing anti-inflammatory qualities that aid dramatically in any healing process, such as what is needed when relieving arthritis.
Stem cells also repair or create blood vessels, bringing much needed blood flow to stroke-damaged areas of the brain. They repair or re-grow nerve tissue, bone tissue, cartilage, organ tissue, and more. They can even become the components of blood itself: red blood cells, white blood cells, and plasma. It is the very nature of stem cells that is ushering in a new medical revolution in the treatment of injuries, illnesses, and chronic conditions.
Q6 Who makes a good candidate for stem cell therapy?
One of the most frequently asked questions asked about stem cell therapy is how to know who makes a good candidate for treatment. Of course, first and foremost, a patient must suffer from one of the conditions that are treatable by regenerative methods like stem cell therapy. In Question 3 above, you can find a list of the most common treatments for illnesses, injuries, and chronic conditions that are usually sought after by patients. But this is by no means a comprehensive list. NSI has a brochure with better details. Anyone can download it for free.
People seeking stem cell treatment as a surgery alternative are often the first to explore regenerative medicine options. But, regardless of your reasons for seeking stem cell therapy, your next step after determining that your condition is one that is treatable through stem cell therapy is to have a consultation with a qualified physician. But, because of the natural qualities of regenerative treatment, one of the best things about stem cell therapy is that the majority of people seeking treatment are eligible candidates.
Q7 What notable people have undergone stem cell therapy?
Celebrities and professional athletes have known about stem cell therapy for quite some time. In fact, many hundreds of the world’s best, brightest, and most gifted have relied on stem cell treatments for years. They include:
- Golf Champion Tiger Woods
- New York Jets’ Chris Johnson
- Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning
- New York Mets’ Bartolo Colon
- Tennis Champion Rafael Nadal
- NBA All Star Pau Gasol Sáez
Excitement about stem cell therapy among the famous is particularly high with professional athletes, because injury is such a large part of their business. Stem cell therapy is replacing many invasive, major surgery types in the world of professional athletes because of it is safe, effective, and returns the professional back to his or her game much more quickly.
Surgery is fast becoming a last resort rather than the first choice for professionals, celebrities, and the general public alike
Stem cell treatment paired with platelet rich plasma therapy (another successful and popular regenerative medicine procedure) is now regularly used to treat sports-related injuries such as tears to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and meniscus. Bone breaks are also treated through regenerative medicine methods like stem cell therapy.
Q8 What are some specific examples where stem cell therapy excels as a surgery alternative?
There are a variety of conditions that have physicians excited about stem cell therapy as a viable surgery alternative. NSI has had great success in treating the following:
- Muscle Tears. When a muscle experiences a tear, it can be healed through stem cell treatments. Stem cells flow to the area of injury and begin knitting the tear by growing new muscle tissue as well as promoting the growth of fresh blood vessels.
Some cases have been reported by experienced doctors of whole new muscle being re-grown where it was once missing. More can be found about stem cell treatment for muscle repair and re-growth at the U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institute of Health.
- Meniscus Tears. The meniscus is the cartilage that provides a cushion where the thigh and shinbone meet. There are two in each knee joint (the plural for meniscus is menisci). They’re most often injured when an activity puts too much pressure on, or over-rotates, the knee joint.
Stem cells repair and re-grow the tissues of the meniscus, becoming cartilage cells that knit the cartilage together. As with muscles, there have been professional reports about stem cell therapy re-growing large portions of injured meniscus cartilage
- Degenerative Hip Conditions. The same regenerative abilities that make stem cells excellent for muscle and cartilage tears are the same that make them ideal for many of the causes of chronic hip pain. For example, in the case of osteoarthritis, stem cells repair cartilage that has been degraded.
Meanwhile the treatment of avascular necrosis demonstrates another primary “talent” about stem cell capabilities. Avascular necrosis is a painful condition that occurs when the blood supply to the bone is disrupted. Stem cells’ abilities to promote the growth of new blood vessels are one of their main functions in such a treatment.
Bursitis of the hip highlights another advantage about stem cell therapy as a surgery alternative. Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa. The bursa is a sac of lubricating fluid that sits between tissues like bone, muscle, tendons, or skin. The purpose of the bursa is to decreases rubbing, friction, and irritation. The anti-inflammatory elements in stem cells are particularly beneficial in treating bursitis.
- Neurological Conditions. One of the most exciting elements about stem cell therapy today is its ability to treat many neurological conditions that once had to rely on drastic and invasive surgery for relief. These include:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Q9 What makes a stem cell treatment FDA guidelines-compliant?
It’s a common misconception about stem cell procedures that they fall under the purview of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the FDA only has authority to approve or deny drugs and devices. Stem cells do not fall under either category. This means that the Food and Drug Administration can neither approve nor deny stem cell procedures.
However, legitimate stem cell medical clinics like NSI faithfully and rigidly follow the guidelines listed in the FDA Code of Federal Regulations 21 Part 1271. Specifically, NSI procedures fall within the category of physician’s practice of medicine governed by state licensure. As such, reputable stem cell clinics operating within the United States practice procedures that are complete on a same-day, outpatient basis.
Additionally, NSI procedures adhere to FDA guidelines’ minimal-manipulation requirements about stem cell therapy. In other words, the stem cells receive highly sterile, quality-control minimal manipulation of a patient’s own cells during processing, then are immediately delivered back to that patient.
Q10 Where can I find out more about stem cell therapy?
Stem cell therapy has become a viable surgery alternative for a number of debilitative conditions. The dawn of regenerative medicine has ushered in a golden age of medical advancement. The National Stem Cell Institute is proud to be at the vanguard of this exciting medical field, and NSI’s physicians and medical professionals are always happy to answer any questions you many have about stem cell therapy.
You can keep up on how regenerative medical methods are changing the face of modern medicine by visiting Cell Therapy News, which provides free weekly updates from all areas of regenerative medicine. You can also read more about stem cell therapy at the National Institutes of Health, where scholarly articles on breakthroughs and ongoing clinical research can be viewed.
If you would like to learn more about the therapies and treatments available at the National Stem Cell Institute, there is a FREE brochure available for download on our website. And patient success stories are available for viewing on the NSI YouTube channel.
The use of stem cells in treating a wide array of ailments, injuries, and chronic conditions is taking the medical community by storm, with more and more specialists and physicians taking advantage of the regenerative medicine revolution. If you are suffering from any injury, illness, or chronic condition that falls under the purview of regenerative medicine, it is well worth your time to explore the possibilities.