Many exciting strides are being made in the field of regenerative medicine. With the goal of repairing healing tissue through regeneration, this branch of medicine uses various approaches to treat chronic illnesses, address injuries, and promote overall wellness. Here’s a look into some emerging treatment options.
Also known as proliferation therapy or regenerative injection therapy, prolotherapy is a complementary approach used to treat joint and muscle pain. It works by injecting an irritant to the affected area, such as a tendon or ligament, to spur connective tissue growth. The irritant is typically a sugar solution, which triggers the connective tissue to grow and promote healing. Study results have been mixed and research into the treatment is ongoing. For instance, people with osteoarthritis in the knee saw significant improvements after receiving prolotherapy injections, but studies have been small thus far.
Prolozone combines neural therapy, prolotherapy, and ozone therapy by injecting anti-inflammatory medications, ozone, vitamins and minerals, and other proliferative agents to promote healing. It’s believed the injected nutrients could bypass the body’s inflammatory response, thus enabling healing without added inflammation. Noticeable improvements have been reported by patients with osteoarthritis, though as with prolotherapy, most experts agree further research is needed to fully document the treatment’s effects. Other conditions that could respond well to prolozone may include rotator cuff injuries, sciatica, sports injuries, and chronic back pain, among others.
Platelet rich plasma (PRP) leverages the healing properties within a patient’s own blood, which is put through a centrifuge to isolate the plasma. PRP is concentrated and has growth factors that can help promote healing when re-injected into areas of tissue damage. This alternative option can help manage the symptoms of joint and musculoskeletal pain and can also be used in conjunction with stem cell therapy to drive optimal outcomes.
Adipose treatment is a procedure in which stem cells are derived from a section of the abdomen then used for therapeutic purposes. Adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) are less invasive to extract compared to cells derived from other sources, such as bone marrow. In therapeutic applications, adding platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to ADSCs has been shown to have benefits.
What is PRP?
PRP therapy is the process by which a small sample of blood is removed from the patient. The platelets are then separated from other components of the blood via a centrifuge. The isolated platelets are shown to have high levels of diverse growth factors.
Why Are Growth Factors Important?
ADSCs are shown to have reduced proliferative potential. While they do secrete a wide range of growth factors, PRP therapy is coupled with stem cell therapy to maximize their regenerative medicine potential benefits by helping to increase their proliferation and differentiation. PRP essentially empowers the ADSCs, stimulating cell proliferation and cell differentiation when used for regenerative applications.
Which Applications Can the Therapy Be Used for?
Researchers have stated that the therapeutic potential of ADSCs is “enormous,” but by kickstarting the stem cells with PRP, it’s possible that the therapy will unlock even further medicinal possibilities. Anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic effects have been demonstrated by ADSCs, and there are many clinical trials which have either been completed or are ongoing to explore the treatment’s effects. Skeletal repair, soft tissue generation, and immune disorders such as Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis are just some of the therapeutic targets for this treatment. In specific, using ADSCs with PRP has been shown to aid periodontal tissue engineering, tendon repair, wound healing, and even bone regrowth.
Because the ADSCs are fairly easy to source and blood samples required for PRP are also simple to acquire, combining PRP to adipose stem cell therapy shows promise for delivering a powerful treatment that can address a broad variety of conditions, all with a minimally invasive approach.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an incurable lung disorder which makes it difficult to breathe. It includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema and is characterized by a persistent cough and mucus production. While it is not curable, it can be managed through ongoing treatment to provide patients with effective symptom control and good quality of life. There are a few key types of lung damage that can occur in COPD:
With emphysema, the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs are compromised. The walls of alveoli are stretched and actually cause the lungs to expand, which makes it more difficult for air to move in and out.
In chronic bronchitis, the bronchial tubes are constantly inflamed, which limits airflow. In specific, the cilia (hair-like structures in the airways) become damaged. The airway can also become swollen and clogged.
Refractory asthma is also marked by swelling of the bronchial airways. Even medications cannot reverse the swelling.
Here, we examine a form of COPD treatment which has been gaining attention recently.
Blood-derived platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is increasingly being used to treat a broad range of conditions, including sports injuries and arthritis. The procedure is performed via intravenous blood extraction. After the blood cells are harvested, they are processed, and the platelets are separated from other blood components. With the higher concentration of platelets, the treated blood is then reinserted into the patient with the hopes of reducing inflammation and speeding up the body’s healing process.
The problem with blood-derived PRP is that the evidence illustrating the effectiveness of this treatment for COPD is lacking. While some studies have been performed and suggest the treatment’s ability to support hair regrowth and reduce osteoarthritis pain, the lack of definitive proof supporting PRP therapy’s ability to make a noticeable impact on COPD has spurred criticism.
A Better Alternative
Stem cell PRP takes PRP injections a step further by mixing platelets with stem cells to treat the structural airway issues present in all forms of COPD. In numerous studies, this approach has shown promise. Coupling blood derivatives with stem cell therapy have proven effective in tissue regeneration in areas like the knee and gums, for instance. In one report, researchers concluded that the therapy “offers a promising therapeutic approach that has shown potential in diverse degenerative lung diseases” based on findings across 15 separate studies.
Through traditional PRP treatment, platelets become 5-10 times more concentrated, or 150,000- 450,000 platelets per microliter. When combined with stem cells, however, they become supercharged and platelet counts are much higher. Because research suggests that the therapeutic level for platelet count should be closer to 1,000,000 per cubic milliliter, PRP and stem cells are far more powerful than PRP alone. Moreover, PRP therapy is derived from whole blood alone, meaning it contains very few CD34+ cells – the cells commonly found in the umbilical cord and bone marrow which have the greatest self-renewal capacity – if any.
With stem cell therapy for COPD, it is guaranteed that these cells will be introduced into the body in a higher concentration. They can then promote the healing process, replacing countless cells throughout the entire body, including the lung tissue.
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