Cell Therapy is relatively new. Select cells are unspecialized (undifferentiated) cells that are characteristically of the same family type (lineage). They retain the ability to divide throughout life and give rise to cells that can become highly specialized and take the place of cells that die or are lost. These cells can both renew themselves and create new cells of whatever tissue they belong to. Cell Therapy is capable of regeneration, repairing, replacing and maintaining or enhancing organ function that has been lost due to:
- Congenital Abnormalities
These cells used for cell therapy in humans most commonly come from bone marrow or adipose (fat) tissue. Some studies are showing fat cells are better than bone marrow cells in regenerating damaged cartilage such as seen in osteoarthritis of joints and degenerative discs. Cells from your own fat have been shown in recent studies to facilitate cartilage growth in knee joints better that bone marrow derived cells (Bean AC, et al: Chondrogenesis using MSC from bone marrow and fat. TERMIS, 2011).
The newest use of cells from the patient’s own fat is a unique procedure using Lipogems, which is a fat harvest and then a fat transfer to the involved joint. This allows blood vessels to be maintained in the fat that have Pericytes on them which are the precursors to all cells. When injected in a joint, the Pericytes are released from the blood vessels and produce cells which are then activated into regenerative cells that can call on cells from around the patient’s body to bring the healing cells necessary to stimulate the healing process.
These cells have two main functions—immunologic and regenerative. Currently if you go to ClinicalTrials.gov, there are at least 426 studies underway for all types of diseases.
If you are considering Cell Therapy, remember that larger studies need to be done to determine if the outcomes justify the cost. Dr. Geraci completed a pilot study as the principal investigator looking at the efficacy and safety of Cell Therapy in peripheral joints for osteoarthritis. This study was completed in October, 2015 and showed that it was both safe and efficacious in regenerating cartilage growth in the knee at 6 months on an MRI compared to the MRI done before treatment. MRI scans will be done at 1 and 2 years post treatment.