The very exciting and relatively new field of Regenerative Medicine has been and continues to be a buzz in the medical community. The key and core components of Regenerative Medicine are based on the regrowth of human tissue, organs, and even joint regrowth therapies like Osteoarthritis. These types of procedures are done in physicians’ offices nationwide, and are executed through two main avenues of treatment, the use of platelet rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapy.
The use of PRP and Stem Cell Therapy are for all intents and purposes the ground level and bedrock of the regenerative medicine space. In this new and ever expanding field, these have been most widely used in doctors’ offices.
But what exactly is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy and what is Stem Cell Therapy?
According to the Virginia Tech Institute, PRP therapy is a concentration of platelets that are injected into the damaged ligaments, tendons, and joints to promote tissue repair and accelerate healing. This is done via a PRP kit that generally contains a 12ml tube and syringe from which to draw the blood separating red blood cells from the platelets via a centrifuge and administering the concentrated platelets to the area of treatment. Normally this procedure can be done in a more precise fashion with a digital ultrasound device. This provides guidance for the doctor when injecting the treatment area. (Virginia Tech Institute)
Stem Cell Therapy:
In comparison Stem Cells are the “body’s raw materials, cells from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated, says the Mayo Clinic. So this is not the use of platelets on a treatment area to trigger accelerated healing, but instead requires the use of autologous tissue, harvesting and use of cells from Adipose (fat tissue), or bone marrow. This alternative approach to Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP continues to trend in the medical community. However, it comes at a price to the patient, as the harvesting technique can be considered invasive or painful in some cases. These injections can use either digital ultrasound or fluoroscopy based units, also known as C-ARMS and Mini C-Arm units. Needless to say those options will always be less desired especially with the advent of Allograph-based solutions on the rise. (Mayo Clinic)
What is the latest in Regen Medicine?
While there is no unifying and definitive answer as to what is considered the most advanced, or the most cutting-edge, as much in this field is so new, a trend that has been observed in the medical community is the rise of Aallograft-based solutions. So what exactly is Allograft? Medicine.Net explains that Allograft is “the transplant of an organ or tissue from one individual to another of the same species with a different genotype. For example, a transplant from one person to another, but not an identical twin, is an Allograft. Allografts account for many human transplants, including those from cadaveric, living related, and living unrelated donors. (Medicine.net) While the means in which Allograft is harvested can be debated, the main and most popular way physicians use Allograft today is based on harvesting from healthy donor placental tissue. This has the highest concentration of mesenchymal stem cells which dramatically boosts lymphatic output and vastly increases accelerated recovery of tissue, organs, and even bones in the body. Needless to say it is not hard to see why such a breakthrough would be so highly coveted. Furthermore because Allograft is harvested from other sources, it can be stored in pre-filled vials for use at later times. This is a much easier proposition for the patient than to have them sit in for their fat tissue or bone marrow to be harvested before treatment. Again these procedures are highly recommended to be used in conjunction with needle guidance-based equipment as stated above (most commonly digital ultrasound, mini c-arm or C-ARM device). (Medicine.net)
While still considered experimental by the FDA, it is amazing to see how much research, progress, and interest is constantly being poured into the field of Regenerative Medicine. It will most likely be the not too distant future where such solutions, and even combinations of these procedures and treatment regimens, will be available to treat debilitating and complex conditions like Osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Multiple Sclerosis and many others. It is truly exciting to see what the future may hold for Regenerative Medicine. (Medicine.Net)
Virginia Tech Institute: https://www.spinemd.com/treatments/platelet-rich-plasma
Mayo Clinic – Stem Cells, what they are and what they do – https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/bone-marrow-transplant/in-depth/stem-cells/art-20048117
Medicine.Net – https://www.medicinenet.com/stem_cells/article.htm