At Priority You MD of Clearwater, Florida we always aim to give our patients the best treatment using the most modern technology. One of the most exciting breakthroughs in recent years has been the development of stem cell therapy. It has remarkable potential to fight aging, halt and even reverse degenerative diseases, and cure chronic problems. It can even be useful in dealing with injuries.
Our Stem Cell Therapy
If hearing the phrase “stem cells” makes you wary due to ethical concerns, have no fear. Embryonic stem cells were a controversial topic in the 90s and early 00s, and federally funded research on them was banned by president George W. Bush. However, this pushed medical scientists to find alternatives, and that is exactly what has happened in the years since.
Today, stem cells can be derived from a number of sources, including bone marrow, fat cells, and tissue from umbilical cords. The latter option is the one we provide at Metabolix. After birth, parents have the option to donate tissue from the umbilical cord and also save some for their own future use if need be. We acquire this donated material to use in our therapies.
Mesenchymal Stem Cells
Umbilical cord tissue contains a high quantity of mesenchymal stem cells, or MSCs. These cells are known as “multi-potent” since they can transform into several different kinds of tissue. They also produce growth factors that tell healthy cells to multiply in the area, while also marking damaged cells for removal.
In the past two decades, a wide body of scientific research has shown these cells to have positive effects for dozens of issues. Therapies are becoming even more efficient as we learn how to best apply them. So, how can stem cell therapy benefit you?
4 Ways that Stem Cells Can Help You
1. Recovering From Injuries
Stem cells have been helping people recover from injury for well over a decade. Sports medicine has put stem cell research in the spotlight, as many famous athletes from every sport have received stem cell treatment. From Super Bowl MVPs to NBA All-Stars, chances are there’s a name you’d recognize.
In fact, stem cells are quickly becoming the first option for injury recovery. Surgery used to be the standard, but since it takes much longer to recover from surgery, doctors are increasingly recommending stem cell treatment. You don’t need to be a professional athlete either, as these therapies have gotten more affordable and are now readily available to the general public.
Ligament and Tendon Damage
Ligaments and tendons have always been difficult to treat without surgery. This is because they receive relatively little blood flow, which is crucial for wound repair. Located in and around joints, they also are difficult to rest.
Stem cells can be injected directly into the joint to help damaged ligaments heal. Likewise, tendons can recover faster from hyperextensions and sprains. If you’ve had an injury that is causing you lingering pain, you should consider stem cell treatment before undergoing surgery.
Muscle tears are problematic as, like ligaments and tendons, it’s very difficult to get a patient to stop using the muscle long enough for the damage to heal. You often don’t realize how much you depend on every muscle in your body until you’ve injured one. Immobilization is just not an option for everyone.
However, research has proven that mesenchymal stem cells can turn into muscle cells, strengthening existing muscle fibers and helping to rebuild the damaged area.
Nerve damage can occur with serious traumatic injuries such as bone fractures, bullet wounds, or deep lacerations. While nerves can be reattached, the scar tissue that forms can impede the transmission of signals along the nerve. This can lead to tingling, chronic pain, a loss of sensation, or even difficulty controlling part of your body.
Stem cell injections allow nerves to heal properly and even regenerate their myelin coatings, a critical component that nerves need to transmit signals.
2. Fighting Against Aging
Aging affects us all eventually, but stem cell therapy has demonstrated great potential in slowing down the aging process. Because stem cells release growth factors that allow healthy cells to multiply, they rejuvenate the area they are applied to. This can be useful in a number of cases.
Joint pain becomes a problem as we age. Even if ligaments are not damaged by an injury, the repetitive wear and tear on your body build over time. Especially if you have had a strenuous job, joint pain can become a debilitating burden.
Fortunately, MSCs can transform into bone tissue to strengthen bones in joints, while also helping to restore softer tissues between them, such as cartilage.
Cartilage, once formed, gets very little blood flow and is essentially set for life. It wears down over time and does not regenerate naturally. In your joints, it provides cushioning and helps keep everything in place. If you are experiencing joint pain, odds are deteriorated cartilage is to blame.
Since MSCs can become cartilage, regenerating this essential tissue is now possible. Patients have reported amazing results in just a few weeks, going from limping to being able to jog.
Your spine is one of the most important parts of your body, and damage to it will usually lead to other areas suffering as they try to compensate. One of the most common spinal problems associated with aging is damage to the discs between vertebrae. These discs can become thinner over time, or become inflamed and bulge. They can also herniate and become very painful.
When discs get out of place from any of these issues, they tend to pinch nerves and create shooting sensations down your limbs. It can also become quite uncomfortable to be in certain positions. Traditionally, the only way to resolve these issues was through complex back surgery, which is not only highly invasive but also risky.
With MSCs, doctors are able to apply stem cells directly to the troubled area and patients see relief in as little as two weeks.
3. Stopping Degenerative Diseases
For decades, scientists have searched for ways to cure some of the most challenging degenerative diseases. Degenerative diseases lead to a consistent degradation in function and can dramatically shorten a person’s lifespan. However, stem cell therapy can slow down the progress of these ailments, and in some cases have even reversed the damage done!
Parkinson’s disease affects 1% of people over the age of 60. Although that number may be rather low, the crippling effects of the disease are difficult for both the patient and their caregivers. The underlying problem is that nerves struggle to send the proper signals between them, leading to muscle rigidity and tremors, along with declines in cognitive function.
Nevertheless, the latest research is very encouraging. Japanese researchers have grafted healthy nerve cells into patients and symptoms have declined. American studies are also exploring stem cells as a way to create healthy neurons. We expect to see more results in the near future.
MS, like Parkinson’s, involves faulty nerve cells. However, the difference is that although the neurons receptors and transmitters work correctly, the myelin sheath that coats the neurons is attacked by the immune system. Without this coat of myelin, neurons struggle to send messages at all.
Current studies show that stem cell transplantation can slow down the progression of MS for 4 to 5 years. As these studies mature and new research emerges, we expect to see those results improve even more. Coupled with gene-editing technology, it could soon be possible to cure this disease for good.
4. Curing Chronic Ailments
Unlike degenerative diseases, these issues may not worsen significantly with time. However, they lack cures and tend to be lifelong problems. Treatment usually aims at reducing symptoms or alleviating pain, but stem cells could be a better way forward.
Everything we said before about joint pain applies to arthritis as well. Arthritis occurs when joints swell and become tender, leading to pain and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis results from the immune system attacking joint tissue, while osteoarthritis is the result of degradation of tissue over time. In both cases, stem cells are emerging as an excellent treatment option.
Stem cell treatment has been shown to reduce the immune system’s response in cases of rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, it naturally reduces the swelling and inflammation in all cases of arthritis. By removing the decaying cells that are responsible for the swelling and replacing them with healthy cells, joints become more mobile and comfortable.
Another chronic condition that stem cells can treat is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD. This occurs when the alveoli in the lungs become damaged over time, often due to smoking or air pollution. Experts predict that this will become the third leading cause of death in developed countries within the next decade or two.
When the alveoli are weakened, you lose lung capacity and often feel short of breath. Short of a lung transplant, there has not been any easy way to treat the problem. Furthermore, the damage done is permanent, and can even worsen over time. But stem cells can help alveoli to regenerate, restoring lung function and reducing the symptoms of this disease.
Science is closer to a cure for diabetes using stem cells. At the core of the problem for diabetics is that their bodies cannot produce enough insulin. Insulin is produced by a very specific type of cell called a beta cell, however, stem cell researchers have successfully created that kind of cell in laboratories.
Studies in cases of type 1 diabetes, where the immune system attacks the beta cells directly, show that stem cells can create more beta cells in the body. Patients still need immunosuppressive drugs to keep these cells alive, but the symptoms of the disease have been significantly reduced.
Likewise, type 2 diabetes patients can produce more insulin by using stem cells to create more beta cells. This can reduce the need for supplementary insulin, which can be quite expensive.
Ask About Stem Cell Treatment Today
If you or someone in your family have any of the aforementioned conditions and would like to learn more about how stem cells can help you, then call Priority You MD of Clearwater, Florida. We will help you find the best treatment for your condition and can determine if stem cells are the best choice for you. Stem cell therapy is clearly the future of medicine, and we look forward to seeing it develop even further.