Stem Cells & Stem Cell Therapy
What is a stem cell?
Stem cells are pericytes, or cells that live on the walls of vessels. The more vascular a tissue is the more stem cells it has, so fat and bone marrow have the highest concentration. While embryonic stems cells can transform into any tissue, adult and fetal stem cells are primarily “medicinal cells” in that they produce growth factors, anti-inflammatory agents, antibiotics, and other tissue stimulating proteins. The primary use of stem cells and growth factors at The Stone Clinic is to stimulate tissue and cartilage repair, reduce inflammation, and diminish pain.
Amniotic Stem Cell Injections
Stem cells are potent growth factor producers and also participate in tissue healing and remodeling. We initially only isolated these cells from the bone marrow, however, data has shown that with aging the concentration of the stem cells declines precipitously each year. While we often release these marrow stem cells at the time of surgical repair, in the office a frozen source of amniotic cells is now available. One cc of amniotic cells contains one to two million active amniotic cells a portion of which are stem cells with 2-50 times the concentration of growth factors found in many platelet preparations. We believe this to be the most effective form of stem cell and growth factor therapy currently available.
We independently test to ensure that the products we receive from our tissue bank have live stem cells and active growth factors. Our clinical experience to date is that this has been the most potent and effective injection for tissue inflammation and arthritis treatment we have seen in thirty years, with no known negative reactions. We usually combine amniotic cells and fluid with lubricating hyaluronic acid injections to increase the efficacy of each compound.
What is PRP?
PRP or platelet-rich plasma is growth factor rich component of blood released from platelets. To obtain PRP we draw venous blood from the arm, spin the blood and concentrate the platelets. An additive stimulates those platelets to release growth factors. This concentrate is then injected into the tissue or joint. Often we combine the growth factors with hyaluronic acid, a natural lubricant.
Other stem cell-based therapies
We use progenitor cells to improve the healing response in our articular cartilage paste grafting technique. In an arthritic or chondral lesion, marrow stem cells are exposed. A paste graft of cartilage and bone is mixed with those marrow cells to stimulate healing. We also release marrow cells to speed the healing of meniscus tears and usually add amniotic cells and growth factors to augment the healing process.
Essentially, stem cells deliver the growth factors and other healing stimulants to the repair site. At the site of injury or arthritis, the stem cell influences the healing rate and quality of healing.