Regenerative cell medicine uses stem cells (SCs) to repair damaged bone marrow, nerve tissue, musculoskeletal system or to generally rejuvenate a person. With careful harvesting and processing in laboratory conditions, SCs become the source of most types of differentiated cells of an adult organism. The leading clinics in the world use regenerative cell therapy to sparingly treat pathologies that require surgery or are considered incurable.
Sources of stem cells
At the stage of stem cell therapy planning, the doctor selects the most suitable source of donor material. This can be:
- Red bone marrow of the patient or HLA-compatible donor
- Peripheral blood of the patient or HLA-compatible donor
- Cord blood
Red bone marrow is a source of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs). PSCs form several types of cells within the same type of tissue. For example, with appropriate stimulation, PSCs can form red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets.
Peripheral blood contains less stem cells than a red bone marrow. However, using hardware-based filtering, it is possible to collect the required amount of material from the blood. Prior to the procedure, the donor receives an injection of growth factor, which stimulates the proliferation of stem cells and their exit from the red bone marrow into the bloodstream.
Cord blood of newborns contains multipotent stem cells that give rise to all kinds of tissues of the human body. This is the most promising type of postnatal SCs. Indeed, prenatal (embryonic) stem cells are able to differentiate even more widely, but the use of embryos is limited for ethical reasons.
Treatment of hematological diseases and cancer
Stem cell therapy for cancer involves the restoration of normal blood formation after an intensive course of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, during which the patient’s own bone marrow is irreversibly damaged. Studies on the use of SCs in the treatment of metastatic tumors are also being conducted. In this case, they are modified to synthesize cytotoxic substances that have an antitumor effect.
Hematopoietic stem cells are used to treat primary (genetically determined) and secondary (acquired throughout life) immunodeficiency conditions. They make up for the damaged links of cellular and humoral immunity. Hematopoietic SCs are also effective in treating refractory and hereditary anemia.
When transplanting hematopoietic SCs from a donor, the graft-versus-host disease is additionally prevented. A modern prophylactic regimen involves the prescription of cyclosporin A or tacrolimus in combination with methotrexate or mycophenolate mofetil.
Treatment of joint diseases
Stem cells are successfully used in the treatment of inflammatory and degenerative joint diseases (for example, osteoarthritis), as well as injuries of the musculoskeletal system, including sports and occupational injuries. Due to the polypotency, SCs can be used for:
- Tendon and ligament restoration
- Articular cartilage restoration
- Bone restoration
When restoring tendons and ligaments, SCs are fixed on biological scaffolds with a native extracellular matrix. Such scaffolds support the viability of cells, contribute to their dispersion along the surface of the tendon and fixation on the damaged areas.
Articular cartilage can mostly be restored due to the patient’s own chondrocytes. A small number of chondrocytes are harvested from the patient’s healthy joint (for example, from the knee joint) during an arthroscopic procedure. After this, the cells multiply in the laboratory, are activated and injected back to the affected joint.
With the use of the embryonic SCs, bone tissue regenerates faster, since only they can give rise to both new bone and the blood vessels that feed it. However, with additional stimulation with paracrine factors, the cells obtained from the blood of adult donors can be used as well.
Treatment of degenerative diseases of the nervous system
The techniques of regenerative cell therapy are used to restore dopamine-producing neurons, which damage forms the basis of Parkinson's disease. To improve the safety profile of the procedure, the pluripotent stem cells are isolated from the patient’s own skin or blood. The obtained cells are reprogrammed in the laboratory using genetic engineering techniques and implanted back into the brain.
When treating stroke, SCs are used to restore neurons damaged due to hypoxia (ischemic stroke) or hemorrhage (hemorrhagic stroke), as well as to stimulate the growth of new blood vessels. To this end, doctors use donor nerve stem cells or drugs that stimulate the proliferation of the patient’s own nerve SCs.
Stem cell treatment in foreign clinics with Booking Health
With Booking Health, the selection of a regenerative cell therapy technique and specialized medical facility will be easier and more reliable.
Booking Health is a certified medical tourism provider, which can help you with the following important issues:
- Selection of the right clinic based on an annual qualification profile
- Direct communication with your attending physician
- Preliminary preparation of a treatment program without repeating previous examinations
- Provision of the favorable costs of clinic services, without overpricing and additional coefficients for foreign patients (saving up to 50%)
- Booking an appointment with a doctor on the desired date
- Monitoring the medical program at all its stages
- Insurance against the cost of treatment increase in case of complications (а coverage of 200,000 EUR, valid for 4 years)
- Assistance in buying and forwarding medicines
- Communication with the clinic after treatment completion
- Control of invoices and return of unspent funds
- Organization of additional diagnostic tests
- Top-class service: booking hotels, airline tickets, transfer
Choose treatment abroad and you will for sure get the best results!
Author: Dr. Nadezhda Ivanisova