Louis A. Cona M.D.
A detailed description of regenerative medicine, what it encompasses and how the term came to be associated with stem cell therapy.
Regenerative Medicine is the branch of molecular biology which deals with the process of replacing or regenerating human cells and tissues to restore normal function. Simply put, it is a field of medicine involved in helping the body to repair itself. In contrast, traditional medicine seeks to heal or treat conditions with drugs and surgery. Regenerative medicine is still in its early years, however, advances made to date have provided many effective options for those seeking treatment.
The term “Regenerative Medicine” was first used in a 1992 article on hospital administration by Leland Kaiser, however, it has evolved throughout the years to encompass a variety of practices. In general, it involves the use of stem cells, or “blank” cells, to promote healing in the body, repair damaged tissue, and even grow new organs. Due to the versatility of stem cells, researchers around the world are conducting studies and trials every day on their use to treat a number of degenerative diseases, autoimmune conditions, musculoskeletal injuries, and major body system failures. Regenerative medicine can provide healthy patients with the tools to maintain an active lifestyle, as well as provide a new liver to someone with severe cirrhosis. In order to understand how this is possible, you must first understand stem cells.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are primal or “undifferentiated” cells. They are essentially “blank” and have the ability to become almost any other type of cell. This allows them to be directed to grow into new tissue or simply transplanted into the body for treatment. In the body, their function is to find damaged or diseased tissue and repair or replace it. We all have a supply of stem cells when we’re born, but it decreases with time, and their effectiveness diminishes with age. A stem cell transplant seeks to boost the body’s number of stem cells by the hundreds of millions. Through the use of donated cord tissue-derived stem cells, the cells used in treatment are “brand new”, with the highest potency and healing potential. It is in this state that physicians can decide how best to treat a patient.
When used to treat autoimmune or degenerative conditions, such as MS, stem cells have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, they have been shown to protect, heal, and even regenerate neurons in the body, preventing cell death. The result is a decrease in symptom effect, as the stem cells regulate neural functions down to normal levels. Patients have reported a decrease in muscle/joint pain, sensitivity, and other inflammation-related symptoms. Trials have shown patients regaining mobility and flexibility, as well as a decrease in nerve pain. The results can last for years at a time without the need for another transplant of cells. This treatment seeks primarily to increase the quality of life for patients by reducing the associated symptoms down to manageable levels and is largely seen as the best natural alternative to drug-based treatment plans.
Although there are many treatments available right now, the field of regenerative medicine has still yet to reach the mainstream. Data is still being collected every day, and therefore not everyone is willing to make the shift away from traditional medicine. Due to this fact, the regulatory environment is not friendly to the field, with many laws not allowing various forms of treatment, and insurance companies offering little to no coverage. However, this too is improving little by little, with many countries adopting the medical field and better regulations put in place to ensure regenerative medicine practices are safe for patients.
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Tyler Heid is a husband, father, educator, entrepreneur, attorney, and freedom advocate. He has been wheelchair-bound for the last year due to the debilitating symptoms of MS. He came to DVC Stem in hopes of changing his life for the better. Here is his story...
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