Many new techniques are emerging within the area of regenerative medicine. These therapies support the body’s own renewal and cellular regenerative process. Historically, physicians used hormone replacement therapy to restore cellular restoration potential. While these remain essential regenerative medicine tools, other therapies, especially in tendon and connective tissue regenerative needs, remain crucial.
Two therapies often used in combination are prolotherapy and neural therapy. Prolotherapy uses medications such as glucose as an injection to help with tendon and connective tissue. As it does this, it restores the tissue by enhancing the body’s natural inflammatory process. Neural therapy works in a similar fashion. However, it supports the autonomic nervous system function which supplies the nerve input to help with tissue healing.
Regenerative Medicine Therapies
New therapies that can be used solely or combined with other therapies include platelet-rich plasma injections (PRP). This FDA-approved injection technique uses a sample of the patient’s own blood plasma. In this process, a centrifuge purifies and isolates highly concentrated growth factors. These growth factors include:
- Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), which attracts immune system cells to the area and stimulates proliferation
- Transforming growth factor-8 (TGF-8), a major cellular healing factor that supports cellular maturation
- Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which helps to establish a new blood supply to the tissue
- Fibroblast growth factor (FGF), which supports the growth of cells involved with collagen and cartilage repair
Another therapy includes autologous mesenchymal stem cell therapy (MSC). In this process, we take a fat sample from the patient (usually from the abdomen) to isolate the mesenchymal stem cells. First, we numb the area and use a syringe to aspirate the fat cell tissue. Then we place it in a specialized centrifuge designed to extract stem cells. Then, we re-inject the stem cells to affected areas of the body. These are typically areas in need of healing, such as arthritic joints and knee injuries to begin the healing process.
New Uses for Stem Cell Treatments
Recently, the cosmetics world has started to use stem cell treatments for fillers and facial enhancements. These treatments create the so-called “natural facelift.” In addition, we can use stem cell injections in the scalp for hair thinning or balding. Other uses for stem cell PRP treatments can even help some men with erectile dysfunction.
Also, patients with stroke injuries, heart damage, lung inflammation, and even digestive and autoimmune disorders such as Crohn’s disease may benefit from stem cell treatments. Since the mesenchymal stem cells have the potential to differentiate into other cell types in the body, these therapies should have long-lasting results.