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Through The Looking Glass

Medical and Aesthetic Training Blog.

Are Stem Cells the Future of Medicine?

DNA StrandA new generation of medicine has emerged in recent years where our thinking was influenced by pharmaceutical companies and now we look for real answers as it relates to medicine in the 21st century and beyond. Stem cell therapies are exploding and the consequence of applying these to regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, and immunomodulation will revolutionize health care. though many stem cell therapies being proposed are still experimental, this area of science and medicine has the greatest possibilities and will continue to be the focus of both aesthetic and medical purposes in the future.

Adipose Stem Cells

the reintroduction of a patient’s own adult adipose-derived stem and regenerative cells has exploded in other countries around the world. Adipose stem cells are pluripotent (undifferentiated) and multipotent in that they can be used as neural cells, blood cells, and other tissues. Potential uses of stem cells include some of the medicine’s most troubling diseases and conditions including:

  • Pain Management Disorders
  • Sports Medicine Applications
  • Baldness, blindness, and deafness
  • Vascular Necrosis
  • Sub-Acute and Chronic Tendinopathies
  • Spinal Cord injuries and wound healing
  • Osteoarthritis, Crohn’s disease
  • And many more not presently established…

New techniques in processing and activating these adipose stem cells require only about (30) minutes of operator time and near-immediate availability of these cells allows for the easy harvest and reintroduction. the process is quite simple in which the harvested autologous fat is introduced to collagenase yielding a lipoaspirate (PLA) contained within the stromal vascular fraction (SVF). Further refinement of the stromal-vascular fraction (SVF) through the use of a centrifuge which creates a concentrated pellet of these primary type cells and activation occurs through the use of light delivering up 46 mil. nucleated cells from 100g of tissue. the systems are sterile and closed systems and there are a number of these systems presently available.

New Advances in Adipose Stem Cell therapies

At present there are only (29) adipose stem cell studies being funded by the U.S. National Institute of Health (Clinicaltrials.gov) and many of these are veterinarian based studies. it is unfortunate but other countries such as Japan, China, and European nations are creating new advances as it relates to adult stem cells. Japan has now identified the bio-marker (25) for cancer and other possible adverse conditions and is years ahead in research and development of a possible medical application in the use of stem cells. the National Natural Science Foundation of China just recently completed a study where they have now identified the protein “Mof” as the missing link in “epigenetics” or the way stem cells read and use the DNA. this protein is key in that stem cells can now preserve their ability to become any type of cell and specialize in other types of cells and greater gene expression.

So why aren’t there more ASC studies done here in the United States? the answer can be easily found by the mass hysteria surrounding embryonic cells about (8) years earlier and by the powerful influence of pharmaceutical companies within the field of medicine. in essence, the stem cell fight was based upon self-interest, not science. the average cancer patient is worth about $300,000+ to pharmaceutical companies and a natural approach or solution could not be patented, copyrighted or protected. The history and precedence of pharmaceutical companies in squashing or eliminating natural solutions for health circumstances is documented and continues to this very day.

Stem Cell therapies is nothing New!

Bone marrow transplantation has been used in medicine for many years and continues to be used in various cancers due to its regenerative qualities. So why do we harvest and transplant bone mar- row from patient to patient? – stem cells. in fact, a recent study found that the use of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) found in adult bone marrow allowed for tissue growth in heart muscles and in overcoming ischemic cardiomyopathy (scarring) in heart patients. donor cells were used since mesenchymal stem cells are not preyed upon by the body’s protective antibodies and could be further separated and grown in a laboratory environment prior to administration. the UM study in Jama showed that all patients receiving the treatment benefited whether their own cells or donor cells.

DNA ResearchIn fact these types of treatments are not necessarily new as there have been a number of U.S. cardiologists and other specialists that have performed stem cell therapies in other countries. Medical tourism attracts an estimated 1.6M patients annually in Asia for stem cell therapies not sanctioned here. Bangkok Hospital, Chaophya Hospital, and Vichaiyut Hospital in Thailand are common destinations for these treatments. the Stem Cell Clinic in Panama has treated 1,500 patients since 2006 and stem cell extraction occurs in many advanced countries such as Israel and in Eastern Europe.

Cytori Therapeutics, Inc. and Adistem technologies are some of the technology companies that are leading the way. A U.S. based firm, Cytori therapeutics has streamlined the harvest and isolation of adipose stem cells without the need for mechanical treatment and allows the physician to control hydration of the graft. though stem cells derived from fat are meant for tissue regeneration and not necessarily organ regeneration the same bio-factors exist.

Other Forms of Stem Cells

Though adipose stem cells are the easiest and least invasive to harvest there are the same opportunities and benefits that exist in other forms of stem cells. Fetal stem cells have shown to improve or eliminate certain types of pain, increase strength and mobility, improve cognitive function, higher tolerance for chemotherapy, and improve healing and recovery. Fetal stem cells are interesting in the fact that they have no antigency so the body cannot reject these cells.

Hematopoietic stem cells are often harvested and the blood is sent to Israel or other nations for isolation and is quite common in Asia and other worldwide hospitals for the introduction to damaged tissues and organs with great success. Finally, Mesenchymal stem cells (Bone Marrow) are also commonly used and have been shown to help generate bone, cartilage as well as support blood formation and connective tissue. Neural stem cells are not used in modern therapies at this time.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Don’t expect FDA approval anytime soon as they profess concerns in association with stem cell transfers and various cancers. However, this should not disallow individuals that are terminal or where there is no known medical treatment for their medical condition to receive treatment. Unfortunately, the advances and clinical data/validity from stem cell research will be forthcoming from other countries such as Japan.

The problem is politics and a special interest in that there are no monies available for pharmaceutical companies and therefore there is no real lobbying group that is championing these therapies. the American Medical Association (AMA) has proved ineffectual in creating change and is another story for another time as to its purpose and effectiveness in today’s modern medicine. the best we can hope for is a “No opinion” from the FDA for these types of procedures which will allow us to explore future possibilities. it is a shame that the most respected and revered healthcare system on this planet will only be able to follow the rest of the world’s advances in medicine rather than pioneer these advances.

A Paragon Shift to integrative Medical Care

As our population continues to age and we learn more about how various sub-systems affect our overall health we realize the failures of conventional medicine. We do not want to take multiple prescriptions and the side effects associated with them, patients want to be in control of their health and live a fuller and more active life. the days where every ailment is by prescription is past and the future of medicine will demand that we look at better, less-invasive and more natural means in combating illness and in protecting our health.

The time is now to join and support the research that will make a difference to future generations if not our own. Stem Cell therapies, understanding various gene expressions, and allowing the body to heal naturally through biologics may not be the total answer but is a great starting point.  Empire Medical Training’s ACP & Stem Cell Therapies course will review the various options available in a physician practice to harvest and administer a variety of stem cell options for patients suffering from pain related symptoms.