About Stem Cells
Types of Stem Cells
What is a Stem Cell?
Stem cells are cells in the body that have a remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types and tissues. In many tissues, stem cells serve as a type of internal repair system, dividing without limit to replenish and repair other cells in the body. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.
There are two important characteristics that differentiate stem cells from other types of cells in the body. First, they are unspecialized cells capable of renewing themselves through cell division, sometimes after long periods of inactivity. Second, under certain physiologic or experimental conditions, they can be induced to become tissue- or organ-specific cells with special functions. In some organs, such as the gut and bone marrow, stem cells regularly divide to repair and replace worn out or damaged tissues. In other organs, however, such as the pancreas and the heart, stem cells only divide under special conditions.
What are the different types of stem cells?
There are 3 main types of stem cells: Adult Mesenchymal Stem Cells, Umbilical Cord Stem Cells, and Embryonic Stem Cells
Autologous Stem Cells (in our case, Adult Mesenchymal Stem Cells)
Adult Mesenchymal Stem Cells are cells found and extracted from the patient’s own body. Adult stem cells may be extracted from bone marrow, fat, and peripheral blood. Adipose or fat tissue is one of the richest sources of mesenchymal stem cells. There are 500 times more mesenchymal stem cells in 1 gram of fat than there are in 1 gram of bone marrow. For this reason, doctors at BioHuman extract adult stem cells from fat tissue. The process is timely, less painful, and more effective. Mesenchymal stem cells give rise to a variety of cell types, including bone cells, cartilage cells, fat cells, pancreatic islet cells and connective tissue cells such as those found in tendons. Experimental studies suggest fat derived stem cells not only can develop into new tissues, but also suppress pathological immune responses as seen in autoimmune diseases.
Adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells are multi-potent (are able to differentiate into multiple tissues) and are being used for a wide range of therapeutic applications. Because we extract these cells using a mini liposuction technique, adipose derived cells represent an abundant and readily accessible source of adult stem cells.
Adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells can re-grow blood vessels to:
- Treat peripheral artery disease (PAD)
- Treat diabetes-related circulatory damage
- Treat age-related circulatory damage
- Restore circulation to tissue damaged by disease or injury
- Repair heart muscle damaged by heart attack or disease
- Disease related tissue damage
- Injury-related tissue damage
Umbilical Cord Stem Cells
Umbilical cord stem cells are derived from the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies. Cord blood is an invaluable source of stem cells that can be used to treat a variety of medical conditions. Cord blood stem cells can be used but not limited in treating the following:
- Brain injury
- Leukemia & Lymphoma
- Cerebral Palsy
- Sickle cell disease
- Metabolic disorders: Enzyme deficiencies & Leukodystrophies
- Regenerative repair
- Type 1 diabetes
- Cardiovascular repair
COLLECTION OF STEM CELLS
ADIPOSE (Fat) TISSUE COLLECTION
We collect each patient’s fat tissue by using a mini liposuction technique which requires local anaesthesia. Depending on the patient, the doctor will determine the most appropriate location to perform the minor incision(s) for the required adipose tissue collection. Typically, the flanks or “love handle” area is used to collect the fat tissue. The procedure generally takes between 40 minutes to an hour. The process is minimally invasive and typically not painful. Pain medication may be prescribed for those who need it, but most patients will not require any medication.
BONE MARROW COLLECTION
Depending on the patient’s needs and treatment required, the patient’s bone marrow may be collected. Bone marrow stem cells are withdrawn by using syringes that are inserted through the skin on the back and into the hip bone. The procedure will be executed by an experienced hematologist with an anesthesiologist in a hospital operating room using light general anesthesia. Bone marrow collection typically takes about 1.5 hours and is minimally invasive and does not require stitches afterwards. The actual harvesting of the bone marrow cells is typically an outpatient procedure.
IMPLANTATION OR ADMINISTRATION OF STEM CELLS
Considering the ailment, physical condition, and/or age of the patient, we at SCHI may implant the stem cells using a combination of the following implantation methods:
Intravenous application is one of the safest and simplest methods to administer stem cells throughout the body. Anesthesia is not required, but can be administered if necessary depending on the patient. The administration of an IV application normally takes about 30 minutes.
Intrathecal (Lumbar Puncture)
Commonly, intrathecal administration is ideal for most neurological conditions such as autism. With a lumbar puncture, stem cells are injected directly into the spinal canal through the lower vertebrae under local anesthesia and performed by a licensed and experienced anesthesiologist. Lumbar punctures are used for neurological conditions because the stem cells are injected into the spinal fluid which passes through the blood-brain barrier. This enables the cells to reach the spinal cord and the brain. This procedure normally takes about 30 minutes.
A combination of Intrathecal and intranasal methods are typically used and ideal for patients with neurological disorders. Stem cells are administered through the nose using an aspirator nozzle to spray the cells in the nose. The nasal cavity has two primary functions, olfaction (sense of smell) and warming, humidifying and filtering air we breath. Inside the nasal cavities are turbinates, which are highly vascular and convoluted passageways lined with a warm, moist mucosal layer. These highly vascular turbinates allow for rapid absorption into the bloodstream because the capillaries within the turbinates are specifically designed to allow the rapid shift of fluids across capillary membranes. Additionally, the olfactory tissues relay sense of smell signals directly to the central nervous system. Olfactory mucosa is on the superior aspect of the nasal cavity and actually extends through the skull’s cribriform plate and into the cranial cavity, therefore passing the blood brain barrier, which is what is believed to aid in the reparation of cells for patients with neurological disorders or ailments.
Intra-articular (into the joint)
Intra-articular injections are commonly used for arthritis patients and those looking to repair ligaments and tendons. The stem cells are injected directly into the affected joint by a licensed physician and is a safe procedure that does not require anesthesia.
Intra-muscular and/or Localized Injections
The stem cells are injected directly into the muscle and/or location where the ailment exists. For example, patients with eye disorders such as retinitis pigmentosa will received a localized injection behind their eye, using a retrobulbar injection, which is an injection that targets the area behind the eye. This particular injection is done by an experienced opthal