Stem Cell Research Through the Years

As the years go by, stem cell research has become more and more extensive. Scientists are always discovering new information about it. Throughout the past two decades, we have learned that there are two main types of stem cells: embryonic and adult. Embryonic stem cells are known as prenatal, which means before an organism is born. Postnatal stem cells are known as postnatal, which means they stay in a person after they are born in an undifferentiated form.

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Embryonic stem cells
Embryonic stem cells can turn into any kind of tissue. They are known as totipotent, which is able to develop into a complete organism once the egg has been fertilized. If the stem cell ends up being divided numerous amounts of times, it becomes pluripotent. This means it isn’t just one type of cell. It can change into one of many different cell types.

Adult stem cells
Adult stem cells can actually regenerate or stabilize tissue in an organ system, which is known as prolotherapy. They can be “activated” to reproduce and learn to yield some or all of the major tissue types when they are being used to maintain or repair. This would be known as multipotent, which is to facilitate tissue maintenance, regeneration and wound healing. Adult stem cells can be found in different tissue throughout the body. Adult stem cells have made strides throughout the years.

Mesenchymal stem cells
In the early 1990’s, adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) were discovered. MSC held an active role in tissue repair. The cells have the capability to zone in and find the area that needed to be repaired. Many different studies have found that MSC is effective in tissue repair. Historically it is used for bone marrow.

MSC has started to be replaced with Adipose (fat) – derived stem cells (AD-SCs) as a primary source for tissue repair. AD-SC started to show many advantages in comparison to MSC. For instance, it was easier to harvest, it had higher undifferentiated stem cell counts and research showed it had as much as 500 times as many stem like cells in adipose as bone marrow. AD-SC actually meets the criteria by Gimble at in which ideal stem cells should: found in abundance, harvested with a minimally invasive procedure, highly differentiated and it can safely and effectively be transplanted.

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Research improvements
Later in the 1990’s, further improvement in fat graphs used for plastic surgery led to an effective addition of high density PRP (HD-PRP). This is blood that the recipient is getting that they had earlier donated for themselves that has four times the platelets the normal level. This increases the protein load. Studies showed that HD-PRP in combination with AD-SC could regenerate articular cartilage among other things.

Stem cell theory
The theory of stem cell prolotherapy is that AD-SCs support and serve as a cell storage for tissue and joint repair. The way it works is stem cells are moved from a “niche” where there is a high population of them to a “niche” where there is a limited amount. Studies have shown that AD-SCs improve wound healing and increase the strength and healing of the tissue.

Different uses
Even though research has been discovered on multiple different types of adult stem cell; each one can be used for a different stage of prolotherapy. If dextrose prolotherapy fails or plateaus, HD-PRP prolotherapy is used to enhance the healing process. If that doesn’t work then combining HD-PRP with AD-SCs have been found to be quite effective because AD-SCs devitalize the tissue and then with the addition of the HD-PRP, it enhances healing capabilities and cellular repair.

Although the procedures and outcomes for prolotherapy keeps improving, more research is continuing to be completed to keep fine tuning the procedures and provide better outcomes. This type of treatment gives hope to those injured in auto accidents. Can it help repair ligament damage? The research looks promising.