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Stem Cells in Sports Injuries, Joint and Muscular Pain

Athletes and other physically active people now have a new health option: stem cell therapy for sports injuries.

Regardless of age, countless patients suffer from joint and muscle injuries due to professional or amateur sport activities, such as muscle tears, torn rotator cuff, tennis elbow, and knee injuries. Throughout life these types of injuries can occur and constitute a severe problem for functional disability and pain.

Conventional medicine for joint and muscular pain includes the use of pain-killers, anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids or local medication. These treatments all come with side effects such as gastritis, gastrointestinal bleeding, renal or hematologic toxicity, yet do not solve the issue at hand.

Within the past decade, the use of stem cells for sports injuries has increased. According to the article, Emerging Applications of Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine to Sports Injuries by Ajibade et al, “Cell-based therapies and regenerative medicine offer safe and potentially efficacious treatment for sports-related musculoskeletal injuries.

Why stem cells for sports injuries?

Due to many reasons, as we age, our body does not have the natural ability to repair itself. Following trauma or injury, the body immediately tries to repair itself, yet the majority of these sports injuries occur in cells or tissue that have very limited regenerative capabilities.

Cells from the immune system, biochemical substances and molecules are released into the blood stream to clean the area from the dead cells’ debris, bring other cells to repopulate the zone, regenerate the tissue and finally, make a scar.

Throughout this long process there would be pain, not only due to the lesion itself (i.e.: an ankle sprain), but also due to the inflammation that is launched to heal the damage.

Stem cell therapy  may address all these concerns. First, stem cells have properties that can control inflammation (immunoregulation). Second, they release growth factors that can stimulate the production of other cells needed to repair the tissue (wound healing). Third, they can increase vasculature (blood flow) to the area, which increases healing. Finally, they may replace damaged cells. While stem cells are not analgesics, they may soothe joint and muscle pain by acting on the causes that provoke it. Therefore, a symptom, such as pain, is controlled by treating the cause directly.

How are they applied?

For sports injuries, stem cell procedures are usually performed under local anesthesia that may be complemented by a light sedation according to the patient’s condition. The majority of these procedures are ambulatory, which means that patients are usually discharged the same day. The stem cells are normally directly injected into the targeted areas. In cases such as osteoarthritis this may avoid the need for a joint replacement.

ReHealth Regenerative Therapies

Each case is thoroughly analyzed by our team of regenerative medicine professionals at Rehealth. Let us evaluate your case and determine if you are a candidate for our stem cell therapy.

Stem cell therapies and Diabetes

Nearly 347 million people suffer from diabetes worldwide according to World Health Organization (WHO). Figures increase annually and still there is no cure for it. It is estimated that 1 in 3 people born after 2000 in U.S will suffer from diabetes at some stage in their lives, mostly affecting Hispanics. For women the figure increases to 1 in 2 Hispanic women. Diabetes is called “the epidemic of the 21st century”.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower limb amputation and blindness in adults. The 2007 estimates for total direct and indirect cost in USA according to figures from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) was 174,000 million. About 9 % of the U.S. population is diabetic.

Based on 2005 to 2008 percentages, people older than 20 years of age that had an abnormal A1C (Hemoglobin A1C) showed 35 percent had prediabetes and that percentage rose to 50 percent in people over 65 years of age in the United States.

Contrary to popular belief, the cause of diabetes is not high blood glucose levels. High blood glucose levels is just a symptom of diabetes, the cause is insufficient insulin being produced (Type 1 diabetes) or the inability of the cell to uptake the glucose (type 2 diabetes).

However, advancements in medicine are progressing daily in reference to this pandemic. More than a decade ago patients began to be treated with stem cells for diabetes. It was postulated that a stem cell injection in the arteries that nourish the pancreas could help to improve the pancreatic endogenous insulin secretion. Continual advances are made in respect to the type of stem cell used and the routes of administration.

We noted in our article on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: “Regenerative medicine is the future of medical practice throughout the world and a report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services entitled 2020: A vision – a new future for regenerative medicine states that regenerative medicine will be at the forefront of medical treatments in the 21st century”.

Despite the ceaseless pursuit and progress on these issues, so far it is not feasible that stem cells are able to replace organs. Fortunately stem cells may be beneficial to improve the quality of life of those suffering from chronic diseases, both progressive and disabling.

Either in health or disease, maintaining an adequate blood supply is not only necessary, but the sine qua non condition for sustaining life and function. Indeed, one of the contributions made by stem cells is the creation of new blood vessels. Stem cells have angiogenic properties, meaning that they can produce new blood vessels inside our body.

Regenerative medicine to treat diabetes

Another feature of stem cells is their paracrine effect, that is, the ability to stimulate by their presence or nesting in an organ or tissue, neighboring cells. This stimulus will result in an increase of the functions exercised by the tissue cells since they failed to comply due to illness, trauma, injury, or some other damage.

Hundreds of patients suffering from diabetes type 2 have received stem cell treatments for their condition. Although type 1 diabetes is less frequent, affecting children and young people there has been a substantial amount of work and research with stem cells in this type of diabetes.

Patients treated by Rehealth are invited to enhance the effects of cell treatment by keeping a proper diet and maintaining physical activity at least daily walks of 20-30 minutes.

Again, diabetes is a disease due to cell bad nutrition, which will progressively cause problems in all organs and body systems. Its consequences are worse with medications used to treat diabetes, since they are not innocuous.

Diabetic patients count on the resource of the clinical use of stem cells, allowing them to extend the period in which they are less prone to complications, not only for the disease itself but also for the medication that is used to control it. Obviously, not requiring medication or delaying the onset of its use to manage diabetes results in long term benefits.

Each case is thoroughly analyzed by our team of professionals in Rehealth. You are invited to send us your reports and tests to let us evaluate your case and determine if you are a candidate for our stem cell therapy for diabetes or other diseases.

Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Acute Myocardial Infarction, Feasible

A study by the Department of Cardiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands, evaluated the feasibility and long-term (up to 5 years) safety of intramyocardial injection of bone marrow-derived, mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) shortly after acute MI. The main finding from the current study is that MSC treatment, a type of regenerative therapy, is feasible and safe at short term and up to 5 years of follow-up.

Bone marrow-derived MSCs are a promising cell type for cell-based therapy. In preclinical studies, MSC transplantation resulted in improved Left Ventricular function, increased capillary density and reduced infarct size in models of acute MI.

 

Global Left Ventricular (LV) function assessed by echocardiography showed continuous improvements in LV systolic function after MSC injection during the first 12 months that were maintained up to 5 years post-MI.

 

These beneficial effects are most likely related to stimulation of angiogenesis by differentiation of MSCs into endothelial and smooth muscle cells and by paracrine mechanisms, including secretion of a variety of growth factors and cytokines that contribute to cardiac repair. Interestingly, MSCs also have the ability to home to sites of acute tissue injury, the potential to actively suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation and thereby possibly inducing repair and contributing to functional improvement after acute MI.

 

Rehealth has been offering stem cell therapy to treat heart problems for several years now. We use a safe approach that enables you to return to your normal activities within 2 days since we perform those procedures by means of minimally invasive techniques.

 

If you suffer from a cardiac condition and want to be assessed by our team send us your medical reports and we will evaluate your case.

Regenerative Medicine and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Regenerative medicine is the future of medical practices worldwide. A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services entitled “2020: A New Vision— A Future for Regenerative Medicine” discusses that regenerative medicine will be the forefront of 21st-century healthcare. In general, physicians, scientists and others expect that the use of regenerative medicine will enable the repair of injured tissues and damaged organs and a better quality of life for those suffering from debilitating disorders. Due to several advances in the field of regenerative medicine and stem cells therapies, the U.S. National Institutes of Health and National Academies recognize regenerative medicine as one of the most promising components of modern medical practice.

Today, advances such as bone marrow transplants for hematological disorders being the standard of care to bioengineered stem cell platforms for tissue replacement and the production of autologous (from one self) pluripotent stem cells for diagnosis, treatment and therapies is what make regenerative medicine fascinatingv. It is presumed that in the near future stem cells will be able to replace organs. Although stem cells are presently not a cure for many diseases, they may be beneficial in improving the quality of life for those suffering from incurable conditions.

Stem cell treatments are based on the principle of rejuvenation-replacement-regeneration—what is called the R3 effect, vii. In brief, new cells from the same organ/donor (rejuvenation), the transplant of cells (replacement) and ultimately the growth of new tissue (regeneration) contribute to homeostasis in order to improve health or quality of life.This paradigm has been demonstrated through thousands of patients involved in stem cell clinical studies throughout the world on diseases such as acute myocardial infarction to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

It is estimated that there are over 200 million people worldwide affected with COPD and more than 3 million deaths annually. Moreover, within the past decades the prevalence of the disease is on the rise for both men and woman due in part to increased tobacco use. COPD is one of the principal causes of morbidity in the world with an estimated 80 million people having signs of moderate to severe COPD Most importantly it presents a direct and indirect economic burden on those affected by the disease. Presently, there is no cure for COPD with treatments only designed to alleviate symptoms and stop the progression of the illness.

There are various studies demonstrating the use of stem cells for pulmonary disease. For example, in animal models of pulmonary fibrosis it has been demonstrated that stem cells control the progression of disease and reduce pulmonary fibrosis. In addition, other pulmonary disease experimental models have demonstrated that stem cells reduce inflammation and most importantly mortality. In 2009, Osiris (NASDAQ: OSIR) based out of the U.S. commenced clinical studies using stem cells for COPD. These studies are now in phase II clinical trials with the latest results demonstrating a reduction in inflammation in COPD subjects.

Rehealth Regenerative Therapies (Guadalajara, MX) have been collaborating for several years to develop stem cell treatments for COPD. Several years ago, Rehealth initiated the application of stem cells (regenerative therapies) and is approved by the Comision Federal para la Protection de Riesgos Sanitarios (COFEPRIS)—FDA equivalent for Mexico.

They are approved to transplant autologous stem cells isolated from bone marrow (hematopoietic stem cells). The cells are isolated from the iliac crest (hip), purified and transplanted hours later while the patient waits. The patient normally is sent home the same day (outpatient) following vigorous testing.

Rehealth is using a different type of stem cell that has shown promise in various studies. These stem cells which are called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are also isolated from the hip but require a purification and expansion step in a clean/sterile room environment. MSCs require approximately 3-4 weeks to purify, expand and test prior to being transplanted intravenously.

In the field of regenerative medicine, MSCs have been on the forefront for years with more than 17,000 scientific publications. There are hundreds of clinical trials throughout the world using MSCs. Recently, the Korean FDA approved the use of MSCs for acute myocardial infarct. What makes these cells unique and on the forefront of regenerative medicine are its endogenous properties. MSCs have angiogenic properties. This means they can produce new vasculature within our body. In the case of many diseases this can help to provide new blood flow to damaged tissue. This allows the cells to help repair heart, brain and other organs. In the heart, brain and lungs correct blood flow is vital to maintaining health. In addition, the cells release growth factors. These growth factors can aid in the repair of damaged tissue. For example, in diabetes these cells may help damaged cells of the pancreas to produce new insulin and in the case of COPD it may reduce and/or inhibit fibrosis formation in the lungs.

Based upon previous scientific findings and our experience with stem cells, Rehealth is now investigating the use of MSCs for treating COPD. The study will be designed to measure specific parameters found in patients affected with COPD at various time points following our present method of stem cell transplantation and MSCs transplantation. We will measure parameters such as oxygen use, exercise tolerance and the GOLD staging system (disease stages I- IV). Our hopes are to find an alternative standard of care that may be beneficial for those suffering from this debilitating disease.

In summary, autologous stem cells are very promising for several different diseases. It has been demonstrated that stem cells may be an alternative treatment for COPD. Rehealth Regenerative Therapies is addressing the use of stem cells for COPD in defined clinical studies with the goal of improving the quality of life for those affected with this debilitating disease.