At StemCell ARTS, we often see patients who have had problems associated with knee surgery, such as a torn meniscus needing repair, surgery to correct an ACL injury or a procedure associated with osteoarthritis. Many of these patients did not experience the results they were hoping for and feel that the surgery has failed. In many cases, the surgery actually did not fail; it just did not go far enough into resolving all of the problems that the patient’s knee joint was experiencing.
Take the example of a torn meniscus surgery. The surgery may have been successful in removing the piece of meniscus that was torn, but it did nothing to address the additional instability in the knee, cartilage wear, or potential tendonitis that the patient might have. These types of issues can cause just as much knee pain as what the patient was experiencing from the initial injury.
You have many stem cell types in your body, and StemCell ARTs would like to educate you about the one that lives in your bone marrow and why it lives there and not somewhere else. We’ll do that through a discussion of fish and frogs. Meet the HSC.
What Are Hematopoietic Stem Cells?
You might not realize that our bones aren’t simply a scaffolding that serves as the body’s supporting framework, they are also one of the human body’s blood cell-producing machines. Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are the cells from which all blood cells (e.g., erythrocytes, lymphocytes, megakaryocytes, neutrophils, macrophages, etc.) are formed. Our circulating blood cells live hard and die fast, which means they must continuously be replaced. This assembly line of blood cell production occurs in humans in the bone marrow inside our bones, with those hematopoietic stem cells producing in excess of hundreds of billions of new blood cells daily, a process known as hematopoiesis (hemato- meaning “blood” and -poiesis meaning “producing” or “forming”).
Today, we’re going to focus on hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), but it’s also important to differentiate these from mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which are also primarily found in the bone marrow. MSCs, however, produce cells that form musculoskeletal tissue, such as bone (osteocytes), muscle (myocytes), and cartilage (chondrocytes) cells. However, HSCs can help repair muscle as they can replace muscle stem cells in time of need.
Interestingly, locations for HSC sources in non-mammals vary, often occurring in organs, such as the kidneys. Let’s explore.
HSC Location Attributed to Ultraviolet Light Protection
Researchers in the new study, using humans as the mammal observation and zebrafish as the non-mammal observation, investigated the zebrafish to determine why HSCs are sourced in the kidneys. The answer was found in melanocytes. In humans, melanocytes are cells that produce a pigment called melanin, which determines the color of our skin, hair, eyes, and so on. In other species, such as fish, snakes, and birds, melanocytes also exist and provide the coloring for scales, feathers, and so on. Researchers determined that a specific pattern of the melanocytes on the zebrafish actually shaded the kidneys, protecting them from ultraviolet light.
Researchers also tested the effect of UV light specifically on the HSCs in the kidneys of the fish (literally by turning the fish upside down in one test and exposing the unshaded underside of the kidney to UV light) and determined that the UV light damages the DNA of the cells. Therefore, the specific coloring design, the “melanocyte umbrella,” over the kidneys of the zebrafish protects the HSCs from damage, making the kidneys an ideal location in this species for HSCs.
Another fascinating facet to the study—researchers also studied the effect of UV light in terrestrial frogs. As tadpoles, HSCs were sourced in the kidneys, which also had the same melanocyte protection described in the zebrafish above. However, as the tadpoles grew legs and transitioned to land-dwelling frogs, the HSCs also transitioned from the kidneys to the bone marrow. This, again, was attributed to the HSC protection that would be necessary from UV light.
The study pointed out that in mammals, an organ, such as the kidney, would not be capable of insulating the HSCs from UV light; however, the bone marrow, well protected by the dense bones, provides the perfect light-free environment for HSCs to thrive and maintain their stringent blood cell-producing schedule.
Problems That Can Occur with Hematopoietic Stem Cells
UV light exposure or not, our HSCs can still become permanently damaged, either due to genetics (inherited mutations) or due to environmental factors (somatic mutations), such as smoking or chemical exposure. These mutations can be passed to replicate cells and can even lead to cancer and other diseases, though our immune cells do a pretty good job of destroying these bad cells. The risk of these somatic mutations, however, does increase with age, and when they occur in our HSCs, our risk of heart disease, stroke, hematologic cancers, and other diseases increases.
The upshot? Understanding the different stem cell types found in your bone marrow is important. In addition, turns out that there’s a reason that these critical repair cells live deep inside thick bone. They’re there to protect themselves and you from the harmful effects of UV and other types of radiation that may mutate these cells. So hopefully you’ll look at your bones a little differently now, as both structure and the key to a long and active life.
Call StemCell ARTs today to learn more about how stem cell obtained from your bone marrow can benefit you.
Edison HealthCare is pioneering a new level of health care for patients by avoiding inefficient and unnecessary treatments. As you likely know, Stem Cell Arts offers Regenerative procedures consisting of Stem Cells Platelets and Growth Factor injections to treat musculoskeletal diseases and injuries. We have helped many people avoid surgery, including replacement of the knee, shoulder, and hip, as well as treating sports injuries, like ACL tears and rotator cuff tears. These treatments use a patient’s own biologic components to actually heal the injuries or damage. You may also know that we have partnered with the company Regenexx, as our research collaborator, to ensure that the treatments that our patients receive are based on the finest and most advanced processes in the world.
That said, many of you have asked “when will insurance start to cover these treatments?” Regenexx, and we, as one of its licensed providers, are actively pursuing self-insured companies to get regenerative treatments covered. Self-insured companies are well motivated to cover regenerative procedures.
The Regenexx treatments, using biologics from your own body offer a solution that provides a low-cost alternative to as many as 70% of orthopedic surgeries allowing employers to save more than 80% on orthopedic costs. Obviously, employers paying their own medical bills are extremely interested in these alternatives and the savings that they can create. With this in mind, we are forwarding you the press release noted below with the link, so that you may read further on some of these relationships that are being made. If you work for a self-insured company, or have influence at the human resource or benefits level, you may be interested in making your company aware of these opportunities and, at the same time, helping herself by getting these procedures covered for your own use. This marks the true beginning of regenerative medicine as a medical specialty.
Fact vs. Fiction
The use of stem cell therapy to treat osteoarthritis continues to grow, as does the field of research that supports this treatment. There are, however, some persistent myths about the treatment that we continue to refute. They include:
That is the Stem Cell Arts difference. Our physicians are board-certified pain medicine specialists who are trained and licensed to perform the Regenexx® Family of Stem Cell and Platelet procedures. They have been performing stem cell and platelet rich plasma therapies for more than 10 years. They offer unparalleled expertise and remain unrivaled in research presentations, publications, and academic achievements.
Unfortunately, many other practitioners claiming to be specialists in stem cell therapy have done nothing more than attending a weekend training session.
When it comes to stem cell therapy, experience matters. Don’t fall for a quick sales job. Do your homework and you will quickly discover that Stem Cell Arts, an affiliate of National Spine & Pain Centers, is a big leaguer when it comes to safe, effective and experienced treatment of orthopedic conditions using advanced stem cell therapies.
Regenexx just posted a new article that does a great job of explaining why the Regenexx Network of doctors are truly experts in their field of orthopedic regenerative treatments. We have more experience and are guided by more research than any other group of doctors who are involved in this rapidly growing field. We are all musculoskeletal specialists with advanced training in image guided injections.
Yet doctors with all sorts of backgrounds, who have only taken a weekend course or two in regenerative medicine, are claiming to be renowned experts in this field. If you’re considering treatment for an orthopedic condition, please take the time to read this important article.
More and more physicians are offering regenerative procedures as treatment options in their practices. With so many physicians to choose from, how do patients determine what sets one regenerative medicine practice apart from another?
The physicians at StemCell ARTS go through extensive training to be part of the Regenexx network of physicians. The regenerative procedures, performed at StemCell ARTS, are all done with image guidance. That means all injections use fluoroscopy (x-ray) or ultrasound to determine exactly where the sample is being injected. The ability to perform image-guided injections requires additional knowledge, skill, and training.
The skill and expertise of the StemCell ARTS physicians has established them as the area’s foremost regenerative medicine experts in the field of interventional orthopedics. This reputation has earned both Dr. Rodney Dade, Dr. Mayo Friedlis and Dr. Robert Wagner the honor of being named Northern Virginia Magazine 2018 Top Doctors.
It is no secret that regenerative procedures are gaining popularity in the field of medicine. Physicians have an increased awareness of just how successful these regenerative treatment options can be in treating a myriad of ailments. Unfortunately, there are those looking to capitalize on the success of regenerative treatments at the expense of potential patients looking to see if these treatments can benefit their medical condition.
Companies are advertising amniotic “stem cells” that can be utilized for in office use. These companies are claiming that these products offer millions of stem cells. Physicians or chiropractors may buy into this sales pitch without performing their due diligence to determine whether or not these claims are substantiated. Luckily, there are physcians who took the effort to determine if these products were really what they seemed, or if they were too good to be true.
Independent research done by the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation (IOF) and other independent physicians concluded that these products offered no live stem cells. Not only were there no live stem cells, there were no living cells present at all. This makes sense when one considers the harvesting and processing that these cells need to undergo.
While the physicians and chiropractors who offer these amniotic “stem cell” products profit, the patients are the ones who receive the short end of the stick. Patients are shelling out money for ineffective products and procedures performed by ill-equipped providers. Patients are urged to do more research on the topic of amniotic “stem cell” procedures, prior to having one of these procedures performed. The video below offers some information regarding results from the research and testing of these amniotic “stem cell” products.
If you’re anywhere on the East Coast, you are probably currently being affected by the ‘Bomb Cyclone’, which has brought bitter cold, wind and a lot of snow. At StemCell ARTS, we see an uptake in back injuries during the winter due to snow shoveling, and the occasional hip pain due to slipping on ice. While we can’t make it sunnier, we do have some tips to make things easier for your back to hopefully avoid a trip to the doctor’s office.
However, even when we are trying to be safe, injuries can happen. We have several treatments that are available for lower back pain. Prolotherapy is a dextrose solution typically injected to the supporting lumbar ligaments to help tighten and strengthen them. Platelet Rich Plasma consists of a blood draw and an injection of your concentrated platelets. The platelets contain natural healing components which cause inflammation in order to help your body send repair cells to the damaged/painful area. Platelet Lysate works much like a steroid epidural injection, in that it works very quickly to provide patients with relief.
Each of these different procedures are performed in the office, with your platelet samples being hand processed in a state-of-the-art laboratory. These injections are done on an out-patient basis, and typically, patients are able to return to work and activities within a few days. So if you’ve gone a little shovel crazy, this winter, make sure to contact one of our offices to see what we can do for you!