Basic and clinical research accomplished during the last few years on embryonic, fetal, amniotic, umbilical cord blood, and adult stem cells has constituted a revolution in regenerative medicine and cancer therapies by providing the possibility of generating multiple therapeutically useful cell types. These new cells could be used for treating numerous genetic and degenerative disorders. Among them, age-related functional defects, hematopoietic and immune system disorders, heart failures, chronic liver injuries, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, arthritis, and muscular, skin, lung, eye, and digestive disorders as well as aggressive and recurrent cancers could be successfully treated by stem cell-based therapies. This review focuses on the recent advancements in adult stem cell biology in normal and pathological conditions. We describe how these results have improved our understanding on critical and unique functions of these rare sub-populations of multipotent and undifferentiated cells with an unlimited self-renewal capacity and high plasticity. Finally, we discuss some major advances to translate the experimental models on ex vivo and in vivo expanded and/or differentiated stem cells into clinical applications for the development of novel cellular therapies aimed at repairing genetically altered or damaged tissues/organs in humans. A particular emphasis is made on the therapeutic potential of different tissue-resident adult stem cell types and their in vivo modulation for treating and curing specific pathological disorders.
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You’ve heard about stem cells in the news, and perhaps you’ve wondered if they might help you or a loved one with a serious disease. You may wonder what stem cells are, how they’re being used to treat disease and injury, and why they’re the subject of such vigorous debate.
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about stem cells.
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are the body’s raw materials — cells from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated. Under the right conditions in the body or a laboratory, stem cells divide to form more cells called daughter cells.
These daughter cells either become new stem cells (self-renewal) or become specialized cells (differentiation) with a more specific function, such as blood cells, brain cells, heart muscle cells or bone cells. No other cell in the body has the natural ability to generate new cell types.
Why is there such an interest in stem cells?
Researchers and doctors hope stem cell studies can help to:
- Increase understanding of how diseases occur. By watching stem cells mature into cells in bones, heart muscle, nerves, and other organs and tissue, researchers and doctors may better understand how diseases and conditions develop.
- Generate healthy cells to replace diseased cells (regenerative medicine). Stem cells can be guided into becoming specific cells that can be used to regenerate and repair diseased or damaged tissues in people.
People who might benefit from stem cell therapies include those with spinal cord injuries, type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, stroke, burns, cancer and osteoarthritis.
Stem cells may have the potential to be grown to become new tissue for use in transplant and regenerative medicine. Researchers continue to advance the knowledge on stem cells and their applications in transplant and regenerative medicine.
- Test new drugs for safety and effectiveness. Before using investigational drugs in people, researchers can use some types of stem cells to test the drugs for safety and quality. This type of testing will most likely first have a direct impact on drug development first for cardiac toxicity testing.
New areas of study include the effectiveness of using human stem cells that have been programmed into tissue-specific cells to test new drugs. For the testing of new drugs to be accurate, the cells must be programmed to acquire properties of the type of cells targeted by the drug. Techniques to program cells into specific cells continue to be studied.
For instance, nerve cells could be generated to test a new drug for a nerve disease. Tests could show whether the new drug had any effect on the cells and whether the cells were harmed.
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Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. Some people call it degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. It occurs most frequently in the hands, hips, and knees.
With OA, the cartilage within a joint begins to break down and the underlying bone begins to change. These changes usually develop slowly and get worse over time. OA can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. In some cases it also causes reduced function and disability; some people are no longer able to do daily tasks or work.
What are the signs and symptoms of OA?
- Pain or aching
- Decreased range of motion (or flexibility)
How many people have OA?
OA affects over 32.5 million US adults.
What causes OA?
OA is caused by damage or breakdown of joint cartilage between bones.
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A few weeks ago, we read another interesting article about fibromyalgia and I would like to discuss a bit further about this terrible illness and how Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell treatments can greatly help patients that suffer from this particular medical condition.
Consistent with what was mentioned in this article, fibromyalgia involves a group of symptoms in which generalized pain is predominant and the patients tend to experience pain in multiple areas of their bodies simultaneously, often also accompanied by constant fatigue and even symptoms of depression.
Ever since I started working as a certified Pain Management doctor almost 15 years ago, it always grabbed my attention how these fibromyalgia patients were often discriminated against and even repeatedly described as: “crazy”, “liars” and “manipulators” by their family members, friends and even by the medical community in general. In part, often because of how “rare” their symptoms seemed to be and also possibly because of the inability to diagnose a true medical condition, based on traditional medical testing, analysis or even X-rays in many of these particular patients.
In addition, there seemed to be little or no positive response to the current (traditional) medical treatment methods used to treat this illness, which often included: prescription medications, physical therapy and injections etc. An unfortunate fact, that continues to afflict many of these fibromyalgia patients to this day.
However, there seems to be a “ray of hope” for these patients with the use of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell treatments. Using the train of thought that cells are often capable of effectively modulate (or modify) some of the brain’s neurotransmitters like: serotonin and dopamine.
We based our findings on a select group of patients that suffered from fibromyalgia and were treated with their own Autologous Adult Stem Cells, since every other traditional medical treatments had failed them and (before their Stem Cell implants) their lives were basically completely miserable and most suffered from horrendous pain, depression and fatigue.
This was the case of Consuelo G, diagnosed with fibromyalgia for the last 15 years and after receiving a Stem Cell transplant (5 years ago) in her affected areas, her condition improved tremendously and reduced her overall level of pain and fatigue to an unbelievable extent. Currently, she gets a PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) injection every 6 months to maintain her debilitating illness under control. Based on this amazing alternative treatment, Consuelo was able to even stop taking medications for her pain.
We also found a very similar case with Manuel F, a patient being diagnosed with fibromyalgia and having arrived at our institute completely devastated & hopeless. Shortly after Manuel received his Stem Cell implant, his pain level was reduced so remarkably, that he was even able to travel all over Spain (covering almost 1000 miles on the trip!) completely pain free. While Consuelo’s pain was greatly reduced, Manuel’s fibromyalgia symptoms disappeared completely and they both were able to stop taking medications for their fibromyalgia symptoms.
Although it is still somewhat difficult to find the actual level of cellular change produced by Stem Cells in treating fibromyalgia, the reality is that Stem Cells can make most pain, fatigue and depression symptoms basically disappear and all without the many unwanted side effects that taking multiple medications can cause.
So if you, a friend or relative are experiencing any chronic pain or suffer from fibromyalgia and would like to find out how Stem Cells can be a beneficial option for you, please contact us at (305) 598-7777 for a consultation with the Miami Stem Cell team of experts, or visit our website www.stemcellmia.com You can also follow us on our social media venues: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or watch our amazing testimonial videos on our YouTube Channel.
Did you know that new research shows that stem cells injected into distant arteries or veins travel to the site of a stroke in the brain to fuel the repair process? While the optimal time for introducing stem cells seems to be between 36 and 72 hours after the stroke, injecting stem cells after that period of time has also proved to be beneficial. For more information, call Miami Stem Cell (305) 598-7777 to learn if you are a candidate for this new treatment option.