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What is stem cell therapy?

What is stem cell therapy? How do stem cells help? What does treatment look like? This article explains stem cell therapy in depth.

Reading time: Under 5 minutes

David Lyons

Guest contributor

Jul 13, 2020

Louis A. Cona, MD

Medical Director of DVC Stem

Stem cell therapy clinic in Grand Cayman

Updated:

Monday, July 13, 2020

Stem cell therapy is a non-invasive treatment that aims to replace damaged cells within the body. Mesenchymal stem cell therapy can be deployed systemically via IV or injected locally to target specific sites, depending on patient needs.

What is stem cell therapy?

Stem cell therapy is a form of regenerative medicine designed to repair damaged cells within the body by reducing inflammation and modulating the immune system.  This phenomenon makes stem cell therapy a viable treatment option for a variety of medical conditions.  Stem cell therapies have been used to treat autoimmune diseases, orthopedic conditions, and traumatic injuries with studies conducted on use for Crohn's disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, COPD, Parkinson's, and more.

While stem cell therapy does not necessarily provide a cure for these conditions, the premise is to allow the body to heal itself well enough to mitigate the symptoms of the conditions for long periods. In many cases, this effect can substantially increase the quality of life for patients.


Where do stem cells come from?

Stem cells can be obtained from many different sources. These include adipose (fat tissue), umbilical cord tissue, placental tissue, umbilical cord blood, or bone marrow.


How are stem cells administered?

Stem cells can be administered in a variety of fashions; IV Stem Cell Therapy (Intravenous administration), Intrathecal (directly into the spinal canal), Site injections into problem areas (Knee, hips, hands, etc.)

How does stem cell therapy work?

Stem cell therapy is a non-invasive treatment that aims to replace damaged cells within the body.  Mesenchymal stem cell therapy can be deployed systemically via IV or injected locally to target specific sites, depending on patient needs.

Stem cells target inflammation

The therapeutic uses of stem cells as a potential therapy for a variety of diseases has been immensely explored, the number of clinical trials conducted with Mesenchymal Stem Cells has increased exponentially over the past few years. (4)

Stem cells have a unique, intrinsic property that attracts them to inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that stem cells can regenerate damaged or diseased tissues, reduce inflammation and modulate the immune system promoting better health and quality of life. Mesenchymal stem cells do this by influencing tissue repair via paracrine effects (cell signaling in order to change the behaviour of existing cells) or direct cell-to-cell contact.

"MSCs are able to migrate and seed specifically into damaged tissue sites, where they can differentiate into functional cells to replace damaged or diseased cells" (4)

Diagram showing the processes of MSCs and how they reduce inflammation within the body.
Pictured: Diagram showing the processes of MSCs and how they reduce inflammation within the body.

According to Mao F. et al.

"Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) facilitate tissue regeneration through mechanisms involving self-renewal and differentiation, supporting angiogenesis and tissue cell survival, and limiting inflammation." (3)


What are stem cells?

Stem cells are cells that have not yet specialized in the body, meaning they have not grown to a particular type of cell with a specific function (e.g. muscle cell, skin cell, etc.) 


According to Biehl et al., “The two defining characteristics of a stem cell are perpetual self-renewal and the ability to differentiate into a specialized adult cell type.” (1)

Mesenchymal stem cells have the ability to differentiate

A stem cell can become many different cell types in the human body. The process of stem cells maturing into new types of cells is called differentiation. This process is the most critical aspect of stem cell therapies, as the cells become the type of cells required for one’s body to heal. 

Stem cells are also self-replicating; this ability allows the cells to multiply into identical copies of themselves.  For example, if stem cells were used to treat a neurological injury, cells administered during treatment could become nerve cells, and then replicate to create exponentially more nerve cells on their own. This ability to duplicate drastically increases the effectiveness of stem cell treatments over time.


Stem cells age as we do

Stem cell numbers and effectiveness begin to decrease as we age exponentially. For example, stem cells from a person in their twenties are not nearly as high quality as the brand new cells sourced from umbilical cord tissue.


How is stem cell therapy utilized?

Stem cell therapy may be able to treat orthopedic conditions as well as autoimmune diseases, with studies conducted on use for Crohn’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, COPD, Parkinson’s, and more.

Stem cells do not necessarily provide a cure for these conditions. The premise is allowing the body to heal itself well enough to mitigate the symptoms of the conditions for long periods. In many cases, this alone allows for a substantial increase in quality of life for patients.


Will the body reject stem cells?

Cord-tissue derived mesenchymal stem cells do not have any risk of rejection within the body. They are youthful, immune-privileged, undifferentiated cells that have no rejection in the body because they have yet to be “claimed.” 


There are no blood products associated with them either, removing the need for a donor match; they are universally accepted. These cells seek out inflammation in the body and begin to heal the damaged tissue. Mesenchymal cord tissue-derived stem cells have been administered thousands of times at clinics around the world without instances of rejection (graft vs. host disease).


Cord tissue-derived stem cells explained

These are stem cells derived initially from umbilical cord tissue. Cord tissue is the insulating material (Wharton’s jelly) surrounding the vessels of the umbilical cord. The cord tissue can contain millions of a different type of stem cell that goes on to form a person’s nervous system, sensory organs, circulatory tissues, skin, bone, cartilage, and more.

Umbilical cord tissue diagram showing where stem cells originate
Pictured: Umbilical cord tissue diagram showing where stem cells originate

Why use umbilical cord tissue?

Cord tissue is rich in mesenchymal stem cells, potentially used to help heal, regenerate & treat a variety of conditions. Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) derived from umbilical cord tissue have shown the ability to avoid a negative response from a person’s immune system, allowing the cells to be transplanted in a wide range of people without fear of rejection. These transplants may have the ability to vastly increase the body’s natural healing abilities and have robust anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive responses.


Conclusion

Previously untreatable neurodegenerative diseases may now possibly become treatable with advanced stem cell therapies.  Regenerative medicine and its benefits may be the key to prolonging human life, although more research may still be required.  

Protocol for stem cell therapy at DVC Stem

DVC Stem uses cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells ethically sourced from AATB certified, US-donated, full-term human umbilical cords. We administer over 300 million cells that are all thoroughly tested for viability before treatment. These cells are NOT a blood product; therefore, it is extremely safe and does not require HLA or phenotypic matching.

All patients undergo therapy in our VIP treatment room located within our advanced clinic. Patients are under constant supervision from both our medical director and the supporting medical team.

We typically recommend patients stay a minimum of 4 days in Grand Cayman for treatment.

VIP Treatment room at DVC Stem
Pictured: VIP Treatment room at DVC Stem


Treatment at DVC Stem spans the course of 2 days.

Day 1: Arrival in Grand Cayman.

Day 2: Physical assessments & supporting therapies.

Day 3:  Cell transplant & activation therapies.

Day 4: Follow-up physical & departure.

Our cell therapy protocol is safe & non-invasive. Patients will be able to travel the following day.

DVC Stem is partnered with Vitro Biopharma, an award-winning medical laboratory located in Golden, Colorado, which is fully FDA registered, cGMP compliant, ISO 9001, and ISO 13485 certified. Cells are only sourced from the American Association of Tissue Bank (AATB) certified suppliers of full-term, ethically US donated human umbilical cords. The selection of these donated tissues is extremely regulated and strict per AATB standards.

Find out if you are a candidate for treatment here.


References:


(1) Biehl, Jesse K, and Brenda Russell. “Introduction to Stem Cell Therapy.” The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2009, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4104807/.

(2) Zakrzewski, Wojciech, et al. “Stem Cells: Past, Present, and Future.” Stem Cell Research & Therapy, BioMed Central, 26 Feb. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6390367/.

(3) Watt, Fiona M, and Ryan R Driskell. “The Therapeutic Potential of Stem Cells.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, The Royal Society, 12 Jan. 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2842697/.

(4) Mao, Fei, et al. “Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Their Therapeutic Applications in Inflammatory Bowel Disease.” Oncotarget, Impact Journals LLC, 6 June 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28402942.

"Dr. Cona is a leading edge stem cell treatment physician"

Matthew Murry - MS Patient

2 DAYS POST TREATMENT

"Is the video I posted from this morning! My speech is so easy for me now, got easier throughout the day! I can talk like a NYer (fast) for the first time in years! Praise God!"

- Matthew Murry

EXCITING IMPROVEMENTS

Only 3 days after treatment, Matthew is now able to touch his nose with his eyes closed as well as touch his thumb and pinky together. Both of which he was previously unable to do before treatment.

We are excited to see his continued progress. His story will be updated here so keep an eye out!

Matthew showing his progress with mobility

Matthew Murry - 3 days post treatment

"This is exciting stuff, god bless"

Matthew Murry - MS Patient

2 WEEKS POST TREATMENT

Matthew experiences sensation in the bottom of his feet after receiving a simple nerve test.

His left foot did not experience any sensation or move at all, but what happened to his right foot is extremely exciting!

50 DAYS POST TREATMENT

Matthew is now able to lift his leg unassisted. He was previously unable to do so.

Matthew is experiencing the benefits of stem cell therapy first hand. You can view his progress video here.


Matthew showing some amazing mobility improvements.

Matthew Murry - 50 days post treatment

"Amazing progress from one of our MS patients Matthew Murray"

Louis A. Cona, MD - DVC Stem

3 MONTHS POST TREATMENT

Matthew is able to stand up with the assistance of stability bars.

David Lyons

Multiple Sclerosis

Although David Lyons was able to successfully fight Multiple Sclerosis through a strict regimen of diet and exercise, he wanted to ensure he was doing everything he could to stay fit. Multiple Sclerosis can be managed with treatment, but there is currently no cure for the disease. For that reason, David came to DVC Stem years ago to use the regenerative and anti-inflammatory attributes of stem cells to aid in his fight for fitness.

The positive results he experienced enabled David to stay strong in the gym, now into his 60s, and that is why he continues to support our clinic to this day.

Are you a candidate?

Complete our online application form to find out if you qualify for stem cell therapy.

APPLY FOR TREATMENT

About Our Medical DIrector

Louis A. Cona, MD

LOUIS A. CONA, MD

Dr. Cona has been performing stem cell therapy for over 10 years. He is a member of the World Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (WAAAM). He is also a recognized member of the British Medical Association, the General Medical Council (UK), the Caribbean College of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. He is the Medical Director for DVC Stem a world-renowned stem cell therapy clinic located in Grand Cayman.

Are you a candidate?

Complete our online application form to find out if you qualify for stem cell therapy.

APPLY FOR TREATMENT

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