Bone Marrow Stem Cell Therapy

Marc Darrow MD, JD. Thank you for reading my article. You can ask me your questions about  this article using the contact form below. 

Stem Cell Therapy is the injection of a damaged area of the body with stem cells that have been drawn from the patient’s own bone marrow or fat. Stem cells are “de-differentiated pluripotent” cells, which means that they continue to divide to create more stem cells; these eventually “morph” into the tissue needing repair — for our purposes, collagen, bone, and cartilage.

The excitement in the medical community is focused on how stem cells work, rebuilding the damaged part of the body from within by turning a diseased joint environment into a healing joint environment. Doctors and researchers are hopeful that they have finally found an answer for osteoarthritis in the promise of Stem Cell Therapy.

Numerous studies support the healing effects of stem cells. In one study, doctors tracked patients for five years after they had received stem cell injections for knee osteoarthritis. At the end of the five-year follow-up period, the knees of patients who had been treated with stem cells were still better than they had been before treatment.4 At five years, we would have to call that a “curative effect.”

Research has shown that bone marrow stem cells increase the cell proliferation of chondrocytes and inhibit inflammatory activity in osteoarthritis – in other words, according to the researchers, stem cell injections cause the regrowth of cartilage and halt damaging chronic inflammation.

Stem Cell Therapy can be useful not only for the regrowth and repair of cartilage damage, but also for the repair of bone damaged by osteoarthritis. In animal studies conducted in China, doctors found that stem cells injected into the site of a bone fracture promoted rapid and accelerated bone healing.

The research into Stem Cell Therapy has helped revolutionize the way standardized medicine addresses problems of bone degeneration and necrosis (bone death). Cartilage can be regrown, bone can be regrown, and chronic inflammation (swelling) can be shut off.

The age of replacement medicine and the age of regeneration medicine


In the past decades, the gold standard of treatment for patients suffering from debilitating knee and hip pain, where a condition of “bone on bone” arthritis existed,was joint replacement.

However, as the decades progressed, patients who received replacement therapy grew older and their prosthetic joints began to wear out. Doctors realized a new challenge for themselves and their patients, which
did not have an easy solution. In older joint replacements bone was removed and replaced with metal. When a revision(second) replacement was needed, there was not enough bone in some patients to have this surgery.1

Stem Cells or Joint Replacement?


These patients became “salvage” jobs as doctors tried to do what they could with whatever was left of the original joint. It became clear to many researchers that joint replacement had to be redefined and disputed as the “gold” standard of treatment.

Others however, had already decided to abandon joint replacement and explore regrowing tissue as the new “standard” of care. The thinking was simple, why remove bone and tissue when it could be repaired.

What is stem cell injection therapy for osteoarthritis?


As an option to joint surgery or replacement, doctors began looking at adult stem cells, (stem cells extracted from the patient) and reintroduced into a degenerated joint. What was found in the initial research was startling. Doctors discovered that one type of stem cell (Mesenchymal stem cells found in bone marrow and body fat) could morph into bone cells and cartilage cells when injected into a joint. The ramifications for the treatment of osteoarthritis or “bone-on-bone” joints were enormous.

Stem cell injections showed that cartilage could be regrown, something that doctors had previously thought impossible because of the cartilage’s limited blood supply within the joint. Most recently doctors announced that they had confirmed successful regeneration of cartilage tissue in the knee through simple stem cell therapy injection.2,3

The research and clinic observations surrounding bone marrow derived stem cells would be too large to fit on one page. I invite you to explore these articles:

 

Ask Dr. Darrow about stem cells

References

1. Panegrossi G, Ceretti M, Papalia M, Casella F, Favetti F, Falez F.Bone loss management in total knee revision surgery. Int Orthop. 2014Jan 10.
2. Anderson JA, Little D, Toth AP, Moorman CT 3rd, Tucker BS, Ciccotti MG, Guilak F. Stem Cell Therapies for Knee Cartilage Repair: The Current Nov 12.
3. Vangsness CT Jr, et al. Adult Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells Delivered via Intra-Articular Injection to the Knee Following Partial Medial Meniscectomy: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Study. J Bone
Joint Surg Am. 2014 Jan 15;96(2):90-8. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.M.00058.