What is Regenerative Medicine?
Regenerative Medicine is the process of creating living, functional tissues to repair or
replace tissue or organ function lost due to damage, or congenital defects. This field holds
the promise of regenerating damaged tissues and organs in the body by stimulating
previously irreparable organs to heal themselves. (Wikipedia)
What are the Tools of Regenerative Medicine?
Traditionally, we have used various medications and hormones to limit disease and help the
body repair itself. For example, hormone replacement therapy has, in many cases, shown
the ability to more optimally help the immune system and thus help us repair diseased or
injured tissues. Genetic research is an evolving area where we will eventually learn and
utilize more ways of specifically dealing with gene defects causing degenerative disease.
Stem cell therapy is another rapidly evolving and exciting area that has already shown
considerable promise in treating many degenerative conditions.
What is a Stem Cell?
A stem cell is basically any cell that can replicate and differentiate. This means the cell can
not only multiply, it can turn into different types of tissues. There are different kinds of stem
cells. Most people are familiar with or have heard the term “embryonic stem cell.” These are
cells from the embryonic stage that have yet to differentiate – as such, they can change into
any body part at all. These are then called “pluri-potential” cells. Because they are taken
from unborn or unwanted embryos, there has been considerable controversy surrounding
their use. Also, while they have been used in some areas of medicine – particularly, outside
the United States – they have also been associated with occasional tumor (teratoma)
formations. There is work being conducted by several companies to isolate particular lines
of embryonic stem cells for future use.
Another kind of stem cell is the “adult stem cell.” This is a stem cell that already resides in
one’s body within different tissues. In recent times, much work has been done isolating
bone-marrow derived stem cells. These are also known as “mesenchymal stem cells”
because they come from the mesodermal section of your body. They can differentiate into
bone and cartilage, and probably all other mesodermal elements, such as fat, connective
tissue, blood vessels, muscle and nerve tissue. Bone marrow stem cells can be extracted and
because they are low in numbers, they are usually cultured in order to multiply their
numbers for future use. As it turns out, fat is also loaded with mesenchymal stem cells. In
fact, it has hundreds if not thousands of times more stem cells compared to bone marrow.
Today, we actually have tools that allow us to separate the stem cells from fat. Because most
people have adequate fat supplies and the numbers of stem cells are so great, there is no
need to culture the cells over a period of days and they can be used right away.
How do Adult Stem Cells Heal?
These adult stem cells are known as “progenitor” cells. This means they remain dormant
(do nothing) unless they witness some level of tissue injury. It’s the tissue injury that turns
them on. So, when a person has a degenerative type problem, the stem cells tend to go to
that area of need and stimulate the healing process. We’re still not sure if they simply
change into the type of injured tissue needed for repair or if they send out signals that
induce the repair by some other mechanism. Suffice it to say that there are multiple animal
models and a plethora of human evidence that indicates these are significant reparative
What Diseases and Problems Can Be Treated?
This will depend on the type of degenerative condition you have. A specialist will evaluate
you and discuss whether you’re a potential candidate for stem cell therapy. If after you’ve
been recommended for treatment, had an opportunity to understand the potential risks
and benefits, and decided on your own that you would like to explore this avenue of
treatment, then you can be considered for treatment. Of course, even though it’s a
minimally invasive procedure, you will still need to be medically cleared for the procedure.
Is Our Procedure FDA-Approved?
NO. However, the procedures fall under the category of physician’s practice of medicine,
wherein the physician and patient are free to consider their chosen course of treatment.
The FDA does have guidelines about treatment and manipulation of a patient’s own tissues.
At Regenerative Medicine Centers of Florida, we meet these guidelines by providing same
day treatment with the patient’s own cells that undergo very minimal manipulation and are
inserted during the same procedure.
Does Regenerative Medicine Centers of Florida use any Embryonic Stem Cells?
Yes. We use both embryonic and adult mesenchymal stem cells based on your condition.
These cells are capable of forming bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, ligaments, blood vessels, and
certain organs. The clinician will decide which is the best type of stem cell for you.