What is Stem-Cell Therapy?
within our bodies lay Billions of mesenchymal stem cells. These cells are different from others in four distinct ways:
- They can replicate, or renew, themselves; making additional stem cells to replace the ones that are needed by the body to repair.
- They are unspecialized. They are not designed to perform any specific function in the body, except to wait upon a time for which their function will be given. They are willing soldiers ready to carry out any number of assignments.
- They are multi-potent. Most cells in the body are differentiated cells. They can only serve a specific function in a particular system. However, stem cells have the potential to differentiate into specialized cells, with characteristics that are consistent with various tissue types, such as blood, muscles, cartilage, nerves or adipose tissue.
- They have very potent anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effect.
Stem cells are a built-in part of our body's regenerative capacity and are used naturally throughout our lives to repair tissue damage and decrease inflammation, allowing our bodies to return to normal function.
how we collect stem cells
In adults, stem cells can be found in many places like the bones, blood, skin, and teeth. However, perhaps the best source for mesenchymal stem cells is found in adipose tissue, the fatty layer of tissue under the skin. The number of stem cells present in this adipose or fatty layer are maintained throughout life. As a result, there are frequently 1000 to 2000 times more stem cells present in the the adipose tissue than in an equal amount of bone marrow. This makes the adipose tissue the preferred source for obtaining adult stem cells.
After the delivery of an infant, the parents can have their infant's stem cells preserved in a cryo-bank for future use. Not all parents take advantage of this so there is an oversupply of these umbilical cord stem cells.
A second source of stem cells would be from the umbilical cords of term infants delivered by cesarean section. The placentas are usually discarded after the cesarean section. However, the vessels within the placenta contain a high concentration of mesenchymal stem cells. These stem cells are much younger and very robust.
At Pittsburgh Stem Cell, we offer either your own (autologous) stem cells for treatment or umbilical cord stem cells. The patients receiving the autologous stem cells would be the ones who participate in our IRB studies.
What happens during Stem-Cell Therapy?
If our bodies already utilize stem cells in the natural healing process, why would this procedure be necessary?
As we age, the body isn't able to keep up with the damage caused from disease or injury. Stem-cell therapy allows us to collect and isolate these vital cells and place them in high concentrations to the areas most in need of regeneration. We collect the fatty tissue sample and process it to remove the stromal vascular fraction. This consists of 30-100 million stem cells. Many of these are progenitor cells for tissue rebuilding and rebuilding of blood vessels and 20% to 30% are mesenchymal stem cells.