What is Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells in the body with the potential to develop into any type of differentiated cell. In laymans terms, they are baby cells that can grow into any type of cell/tissue. They are the very basic biological cells that other cells are derived from and play a huge role in the healing process. They’re unspecialized and waiting for the hormones and growth factors from variant cells in which they’re in close proximity to give them information on what type of cell to become. These collections of specialized cells working together to perform a specific function form distinct tissues in the body.
Along with having the ability to divide and renew independently, stem cells naturally have both anti-inflammatory and angiogenic characteristics. Chronic inflammation is linked to joint diseases, autoimmune diseases, and other conditions related to the aging process; stem cells’ anti-inflammatory quality can work to counter this process. Angiogenesis is the process of regrowing blood vessels, a physiologic mechanism essential to the healing process.
The concept behind stem cell therapy is simple: inject healthy, undifferentiated cells with the full capacity to promote the growth of blood vessels and reverse the development of inflammation into an area that needs the healing process to be kick-started. These stem cells are fully equipped with the ability to produce over three thousand trophic factors, which are proteins responsible for stimulating the growth of cells in the body. Because stem cells are, by definition, undifferentiated, and ready to develop into a specific variant cell, they can be injected into affected areas and will develop into functioning cells, building healthy tissues.
Stem cell therapy is used for a variety of conditions but most commonly for (1) joint diseases (such as arthritis and osteoarthritis), (2) autoimmune disorders, and (3) anti-aging.
There are two methods of stem cell therapy, Adult and Embryonic. The first uses adult cells from adipose, blood, or bone marrow-derived stem cells from the patient, which are then centrifuged to concentrate the stem cells and growth factors. The downside of this method is that the number and potency of cells are inversely related to one’s age. This means the older we get the less virulent these stem cells are as they have been in our body for a long time. Therefore, younger is better. The alternative method uses Embryonic or postnatally-derived tissues (umbilical cord, amniotic fluid, placental tissues) harvested after birth that otherwise would have been discarded. These cells, being only hours old, have higher stem cell concentrations. The method used is determined based upon the age and need of the patient.
Here are some of the ways cord blood stem cells are better than other stem cells: