Currently, there is innovative new research made into the healing process of the body using stem cells. Focus is on using the body’s healing mechanisms with technologic enhancement to treat medical conditions. The injection of stem cells into a problematic area of the body seeks to restore the missing tissue with natural means, instead of using an outside material, or simply masking the symptoms.
Stem cell injections are a promising area of research, as they are often able to help repair areas of the body that otherwise could not be treated. This is able to occur as immature stem cells have the unique capability to transform into any cell the body needs, making them capable of replacing the specialty cells of the body that would otherwise be irreplaceable (such as muscle cells and cartilage). The ability to inject stem cells into these problematic areas can help to repair injuries that would otherwise potentially have become permanent.
The vast majority of stem cell-based treatments are still in the early stages of clinical testing, with a focus on proving their ability to function consistently with widespread use. Theoretically, a stem cell injection will be able to treat any condition of the body caused by damaged or missing tissue, with the stem cells simply becoming the cells the body needs. This being said, there are a number of applications already available for the treatment of patients.
There are two separate types of stem cells that are currently being used for injection therapy. The first group, called self-stem cells, is harvested from the bone marrow of the patient. These are developed into an injectable solution that is only able to be used for that individual in treatments. There is also a process that utilizes the fat reserves in the body to harvest cells instead of the bone marrow.
Self-stem cells are already known for one major stem cell injection that is seeing widespread use, which goes by the name of platelet-rich plasma therapy. This procedure, called PRP for short, involves harvesting the platelets from of the patient’s blood and re-administering them into a problematic joint to stimulate the natural healing process of that area. These platelets are a type of self-stem cell that is rich is healing factors and growth hormones.
The second type of harvestable stem cell is known as an amniotic cell, and it is not gathered from a single individual. Instead, these cells are gathered from the amniotic birth fluid that would otherwise be discarded following childbirth. This fluid can be carefully processed in a laboratory to have stem cells extracted from it, which will be carefully scanned to screen out potential contamination. These are able to be made into an injectable that can be used on any patient, and have yet to produce any known negative complications.
The most effective use of a stem cell injection is still up for debate. While there is plenty of research being conducted into this area, patients are still limited in what they will be able to receive in the way of stem cell injections. Currently, PRP therapy is one of the only concrete applications for stem cell injections available, with other procedures pending as the exact composition of stem cells that will result in beneficial effects is still under study.
Any risks of these injections are still unknown pending further research.