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Imagine going to the doctor and instead of getting an injection of a lab-created pharmaceutical, he injects your own cells into your body to repair your heart… save your joints from arthritis… or to stop multiple sclerosis from ravaging your nervous system?
It may sounds like a scene form a science fiction movie, but this amazing medical technology is already being used to treat conditions ranging from autoimmune diseases to spinal cord injuries.
And it’s all because of the magic of stem cell therapy…
Stem cells basics
What’s so magical about stem cells is that they can self-renew (i.e. make copies of themselves) and then differentiate (turn into various other tissue types).
Because of this, they are seen as a way to restore healthy new tissue in the human body — and as a means to provide healing from all sorts of diseases.
There are different types of stem cells…
You’ve probably heard of embryonic stem cells, largely due to the ethical debate surrounding their use — but they’re not the only ones available to scientists and modern medicine.
Additionally there are tissue-specific stem cells such as bone marrow cells that make red blood cells. There are induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells which are engineered in the lab to make skin cells behave like embryonic stem cells…
Then there are adult mesenchymal cells — and what’s really great about them is that they’re just waiting to be harvested from your very own belly fat!
Adult mesenchymal stem cells can quite easily be taken from your lower belly or flank storage fat areas and then injected back into your blood or body tissue (e.g. joint) to cause healing.
Why is this so exciting?
Fat stored in your belly and thighs — even love handles — contain your largest supply of adult mesenchymal stem cells. These fatty deposits are estimated to have thousands of times more stem cells than in your bone marrow.
How do doctors harvest and use your mesenchymal cells? Through a procedure not unlike liposuction…
Performed under local anesthesia, doctors are able to “harvest” just 2 ounces of your own fat, which is immediately processed in a sterile FDA-approved device to isolate your mesenchymal stem cells and also the needed growth factors to heal tissue. This condensed collection of precious cells is called the Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF).
Then within 90 minutes they are “deployed,” or returned back into your body using minimally invasive methods. Depending on your condition, stem cells can either be infused by an IV route or injected directly into your joints, tendons or ligaments, often using ultrasound guidance.
And here’s the magic…
In the right environment, they differentiate into bone, cartilage, muscle, fat (breast), collagen, nerves, blood vessels, skin, or other tissue types. And because these are your own cells, there is no risk of rejection.
The entire procedure takes a few hours, but can offer a lifetime of cure. In a few months they grow into tissue like the surrounding tissue where they get replaced.
What conditions can stem cell therapy treat?
Because fat-derived adult mesenchymal stem cells are able to change into a variety of cell and tissue types they are being used to treat a range of health conditions in the areas of urology, cosmetic surgery, ear, nose, & throat, sports medicine, functional medicine, orthopedics, internal medicine and cardiology.
It may soon be commonplace to use this stem cell therapy to cure conditions including:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Back, neck, shoulder, hip, knee, elbow, hand and spine arthritis
- Cardiovascular disorders: Congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, post myocardial infarction. Adult mesenchymal stem cells are shown to be chemically transformed into cardiomyocytes (new heart tissue cells), a source of autologous cells (from yourself) that can repair heart tissue. 1
- Lung diseases: asthma, COPD
- Neurological disorders: multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathy, Parkinson’s, muscular dystrophy, ALS, stroke damage, incomplete spinal cord injury.
- Skin conditions
- Urologic conditions: erectile dysfunction, interstitial cystitis, male incontinence
- Wellness and rejuvenation
As you can imagine, stem cell research is a huge area of scientific study — and is already showing results in healthcare. Even though this is still technically considered “investigational” it is commercially available, possibly even at a doctor’s office near you.
But there is a catch: so far the use of stem cells for therapeutic use is considered “investigational” by the FDA. That makes it a bit challenging to get these treatments easily.
What if it can be done under an “investigational use” method for clinical research and also allow you to have the treatment? This would make it both legal and available.
If you’d like to know more about this amazing therapy, including how to pursue it, read more about the cure your body holds here.
To healing and feeling good,
Michael Cutler, M.D.