Throughout this website you read about our clinical observations surrounding the use of bone marrow derived stem cells in the treatment of degenerative joint, tendon, ligament, and spine disease. In late 2018, after much research, I decided to add new products to our treatment line. Part of my decision was based on research like this, published in October 2018 in the journal Regenerative Medicine. (1)
“Stem cell-based therapy for the treatment of orthopedic diseases is arguably one of the most remarkable developments in the field of regenerative medicine. A better understanding of Mesenchymal stem cell biology and identification of Mesenchymal stem cells in (umbilical) cord blood have added umbilical cord blood to the sources of stem cells used for treatment of nonhematopoietic diseases.”
In that same study, the researchers noted: “the data conclusively establish that (umbilical cord blood) is enriched in cytokines (proteins that communicate commands to stem cells) and growth factors that play an important role in bone regeneration and repair.”
Bone regeneration and repair is certainly an appealing treatment for degenerative joint disease. Later in this chapter we will look at the research surrounding the impact of growth factors and umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells not only for bone repair, but cartilage repair as well.
RESEARCH ON UMBILICAL CORD BLOOD STEM CELL THERAPY IN KNEE OSTEOARTHRITIS
In the Chinese journal of reparative and reconstructive surgery, (2) doctors reported on the effects of umbilical cord blood stem cell therapy on their patients. Here are the learning points of their study:
- Between January 2015 and January 2016, 36 patients with moderate or severe degenerative knee osteoarthritis were randomly divided into 2 groups of 18 patients each.
- Intra-articular injection of human umbilical cord stem cell suspension was performed once a month for 2 times as a course of treatment in the cell treatment group; sodium hyaluronate by intra-articular injection was used once a week for 5 times as a course of treatment in the control group.
- All patients of 2 groups received a course of treatment.
- The patients were followed up for 6 months.
- In the stem cell treatment group, standardized pain and function scores at 2-6 months after treatment were significantly better when compared with scores before treatment, and no recurrence of knee pain was observed during follow-up.
- The standardized pain and function scores at 1 and 2 months after treatment between 2 groups were similar but the scores of the cell treatment group were significantly better than those of the control group at 3 and 6 months.
Conclusion: Human umbilical cord stem cells can significantly improve the joint function and quality of life for patients with degenerative knee osteoarthritis. It takes effect after 1 month and the treatment effect can be sustained for 6 months.
A December 2018 study in the medical journal Stem cells translational medicine (3) examined single versus multiple umbilical cord blood stem cell treatments in patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis.
The patients in this study either:
- Received hyaluronic acid injections at the baseline of the study and at 6 months.
- Received a single-dose umbilical cord blood stem cell treatment at baseline.
- Received two umbilical cord blood stem cell treatments at baseline and 6 months.
- Clinical scores and magnetic resonance images (MRIs) were assessed throughout the 12 months follow-up.
- No severe adverse events were reported.
- Only umbilical cord blood stem cell treatment patients experienced significant pain and function improvements from baseline.
- Patients reached significantly lower levels of pain in the two umbilical cord blood stem cell treatment group as compared with the hyaluronic acid injection group.
- Repeated umbilical cord blood stem cell treatment is safe and superior to hyaluronic acid injections in knee osteoarthritis at 1-year follow-up.
There is a controversy surrounding umbilical cord blood stem cells therapy offered in the United States. The controversy surrounds the makeup of the injectable solution. There are those in the medical community who insist that the injectable solution contains beneficial and abundant live umbilical cord blood stem cells. There are those who suggest that there were no live umbilical cord blood stem cells in the injectable solution. As of the time this question remains debated.
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1 Sane MS, Misra N, Mousa OM, Czop S, Tang H, Khoo LT, Jones CD, Mustafi SB. Cytokines in umbilical cord blood-derived cellular product: a mechanistic insight into bone repair. Regenerative medicine. 2018 Oct 22;13(8):881-98.
2 Park YB, Ha CW, Lee CH, Yoon YC, Park YG. Cartilage Regeneration in Osteoarthritic Patients by a Composite of Allogeneic Umbilical Cord Blood-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Hyaluronate Hydrogel: Results from a Clinical Trial for Safety and Proof-of-Concept with 7 Years of Extended Follow-Up. Stem Cells Transl Med. 2016;6(2):613-621. (1025)
3 Wang Y, Jin W, Liu H, Cui Y, Mao Q, Fei Z, Xiang C. CURATIVE EFFECT OF HUMAN UMBILICAL CORD MESENCHYMAL STEM CELLS BY INTRA-ARTICULAR INJECTION FOR DEGENERATIVE KNEE OSTEOARTHRITIS. Zhongguo xiu fu chong jian wai ke za zhi= Zhongguo xiufu chongjian waike zazhi= Chinese journal of reparative and reconstructive surgery. 2016 Dec;30(12):1472-7.
There is controversy in the medical community about umbilical cord blood stem cells. Some insist that the injectable solution contains abundant live umbilical cord blood stem cells. Some suggest that the stem cells are not alive. I have seen the flow cytometry showing live stem cells. The research shows that these stem cells release cytokines and growth factors that awaken native stem cells. I have tried this treatment on myself for both shoulders and knees. After great success, I started using this treatment on patients. I still use PRP and bone marrow depending on the patient’s pathology and requirements. To date the results are excellent for all of these treatments. We are in the process of doing a study on cord blood stem cells (we have done others on bone marrow and PRP) to see which treatments are the most successful. We are awaiting more long term results.