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New applications of stem cell therapy

By David Ikudayisi
05 October 2017   |   4:26 am
Researches and studies about the potential applications of stem cell therapy are rapidly expanding, thanks to the fast gaining popularity of regenerative medicine.

STEM CELLS… Could stem cells reverse the ageing process? Cardiac stem cells from young hearts could rejuvenate old hearts. Donor stem cells used to treat spinal cord injury. Scientists discover new way to activate stem cells to make hair grow. PHOTO CREDIT: http://stemcellgeneticmed.com

Researches and studies about the potential applications of stem cell therapy are rapidly expanding, thanks to the fast gaining popularity of regenerative medicine.

Regenerative medicine is a branch of medicine that aims to restore normal function by repairing or replacing damaged or malfunctioning cells and tissues in patients who have lost tissue or organ function due to age, disease, or congenital defects. It comprises of different components including, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy, Adult Stem Cell (ASC) Therapy, Embryonic Stem Cell (ESC) Therapy and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) Therapy. It is important to understand that only the first two therapies (PRP & ASC) are currently available in clinically settings today, proven and considered safe for practical use in humans.

The doctors practicing in this relatively new field of medicine have very strong passion for it because of the possibilities it provides. Regenerative medicine is the medicine of tomorrow that is available today and holds a lot of promises with the results that we are already seeing in patients both in United States of America (USA) and in Nigeria. For example regarding neurological disorders, we doctors were taught in medical school that the central nervous system rarely regenerates, that there is little to no hope for paralyzed patients, and that damaged brain tissue may be a permanent condition, just to name a few.

Nowadays, the re-growth of brain cells and improvements of neurological function in spinal cord injury (SCI) patients have been documented. When applicable, adult stem cell treatment is basically a medical time machine. Where and when applicable, the results of Adult Stem Cell Therapy (ASCT) that we doctors see in medical practice every day is what keeps the drive for the advancement of regenerative medicine, and keep more grants rolling in for additional researches and studies.

Some ailments are really responding well to ASCT in Nigeria. Some of such diseases are – Diabetes Mellitus (DM), Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) including those on haemodialysis or on the kidney transplant waiting list, Erectile Dysfunction (ED), hypertension, joint pain and some neurological disorders, to mention a few.

Recently, latest research reports and studies on stem cells therapy were published in a couple of journals, and the topics or issues addressed include: 1. Could stem cells reverse the ageing process? 2. Cardiac stem cells from young hearts could rejuvenate old hearts. 3. Using donor stem cells to treat spinal cord injury. 4. New way to activate stem cells to make hair grow.

Could stem cells reverse the ageing process?
The regenerative power of tissues and organs deteriorates as we age. The modern day stem cell hypothesis is that adult stem cells are able to initiate self-renewal and to divide, proliferate and then differentiate in order to rejuvenate damaged tissue.

Adult stem cells are important because they help keep human tissues healthy by replacing cells that have gotten old or damaged. The part of human brain that the scientist believes may be responsible for the ageing process is called Hypothalamus. One of its most important jobs is to maintain homeostasis – keeping different parts of the body working in a constantly stable, balanced way. When there is substantial loss of the hypothalamic cells, the ageing starts. As the number of these cells declines naturally over time, or if their function is disrupted, the body’s organs and metabolic processes age faster and death occurs earlier.

In models, when these hypothalamic cells were depleted, the ageing process was accelerated and lifespan shortens. On the other hand, the local implantation of healthy hypothalamic cells slows down ageing and extends lifespan. Exosomes are extracellular cell-derived vesicles that are present in almost all biological fluids. The conclusion by the researchers is that ageing speed is substantially controlled by hypothalamic stem cells, partially through the release of exosomal miRNAs.

Intravenous application of adult adipose (Fat) stem cell therapy is good for anti-aging and generalized body treatment. As a human being, you are a mortal. This means you will die one day. While alive, you want to live a good quality of life till your old age and enjoy the fruits of your labors before you eventually die. And most importantly, you want to die at the age God has assigned for you to die and not at the age that some preventable conditions caused you to die. For example, if you are diagnosed with Diabetes, you can regenerate your pancreas and prevent complications of diabetes like chronic kidney disease that leads to hemodialysis with adult adipose (Fat) stem cell therapy (ASCT), or may even reverse the Hemodialysis issue if you already have this complication as evident already in some patients in Nigeria, including those that their doctors placed on Kidney transplant list. There are evidence-based studies and clinical trials published in the US National Library of Medicine to attest to this.

Cardiac stem cells from young hearts could rejuvenate old hearts
In another recently published model study, it was discovered that stem cells from young hearts might help reverse the aging process. In this study, cardiosphere-derived cells secrete tiny vesicles that could ‘turn back the clock’ for age-related heart conditions….

These treatments are being procured already in Nigeria, at least in Lagos and Abuja. Patients are now being treated in Nigeria using adult stem cells and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy without having to travel abroad….

The results of study on the lab rats show that the rats that received the cardiosphere-derived cells experienced improved heart function; demonstrated longer heart cell telomeres, compound structures located at the ends of chromosomes that shrink with age; improved their exercise capacity by an average of approximately 20 percent and regrew hair faster than rats that didn’t receive the cells.

It is too early for practical use of the result of this study, which was conducted by the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. Lilian Griorian-Shamagian, MD, PhD, who was co-primary researcher on the study, notes that it is still unclear if the cells actually extend the lifespan of the rats, rather than simply providing a new heart in an old body. There are still many unanswered questions from the study.

According to a new study published in Circulation Research, an American Heart Association journal, Scientists offer new hope for heart failure patients. Using stem cells derived from the umbilical cord, researchers have improved the heart muscle and function of heart failure patients, paving the way for noninvasive therapies.

The results were deemed “encouraging” by Dr. Fernando Figueroa, a professor of medicine at the Universidad de los Andes (UANDES) in Santiago, Chile. He says that the findings could improve survival rates for heart failure patients, which are currently quite disappointing.

The good news is that there are already clinical studies showing the benefits of Autologous (donor is the same as the recipient) Adult Stem Cell Therapy for heart disease, allowing the practical use of it in the clinics instead of waiting for the study that uses Allogenic (donor is different from the recipient) heart cells to reach the clinical stage. All currently safe and effective Adult Stem Cell Therapy for heart disease still need to be improved on before they can become the main street cure for cardiac disease. When orthodox medicine fails, Adult Stem Cell Therapy may step in to save the day in some cases and prolong life in some people.

Using donor stem cells to treat spinal cord injury
A new study in mice published in The Journal of Neuroscience details a potential therapeutic strategy that uses stem cells to promote recovery of motor activity after spinal cord injury. The study shows that the transplantation of neural stem cells could help promote repair of an injured spinal cord, but the interaction between donor cells and the resident cells that are part of the body’s immune response to injury is not well understood in this Allogenic (donor is different from recipient) transplantation.

On the other hand, human trial or studies done with Autologous Adult Adipose-derived Stem Cells show that it is safe and effective. A good example of such studies was published in the Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine in November 2016. The conclusion was that the intrathecal transplantation of autologous ADMSCs for Spinal Cord Injury was free of serious adverse events, and several patients showed improvements in neurological function.

New way to activate stem cells to make hair grow
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles say that they have identified a new way to activate stem cells in hair follicles to regrow hair. The study findings could lead to new drugs that could promote hair growth for people with baldness or alopecia.

In this study, researchers blocked the production of lactate genetically in mice and found that this prevented hair follicle stem cell activation and then increased lactate production genetically in the mice, which accelerated hair follicle stem cell activation. The experimental drugs were used in preclinical tests only and have not been tested in humans or approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective for use in humans.

On the contrary, we are already getting great results in hair restoration treatments using Autologous Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy or Adult Stem Cell (ADSC) Therapy. This has been proven to be safe and effective. I am a living testimony of such treatment as I used to have a receding hair in my frontal head before I had Autologous PRP Therapy on December 6, 2017. Now, the result speaks for itself.

It is worth mentioning that regenerative medicine can help address health care challenges in Nigeria. The wealth of a nation can be measure by the health of the nation. Nigeria is recording poor health indices. One of the reasons for this is that most Nigerians do not embrace Preventive Medicine. We promote but do not practice the ideology that “Prevention is better than Cure”. Regenerative Medicine, as in Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy & Adult Stem Cell (ASC) Therapy, can help reduce our mortality rate in Nigeria, thereby recording better health indices.

Adult Stem Cell (ASC) Therapy and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy hold answers to many questions and problems that we doctors used to believe had no solutions. This is a game-changing area of medicine with the potential to fully heal damaged tissues and organs, offering solutions and hope for people who have conditions that today are beyond repair.

The Adult Stem Cell Therapy that we have been talking about is different from the controversial Embryonic Stem Cell (ESCT) Therapy and to be very clear, ESCT is not what is practiced at the health centers where I work in USA and Nigeria. ESCT has both religious and ethical issues surrounding it. The other type of Stem Cell Therapy that that does not currently have outpatient clinic applications is induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). IPSCs are produced in the lab by reprogramming adult cells to express embryonic stem cells characteristics.

What is allowed without these ethical or religious issues is the Adult Stem Cell (ASC) Therapy, which uses the stem cells obtained from an individual patient. There is also Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Therapy, which is a type of stem cell used in Adult stem cell (ASC) therapy.

When applicable, regenerative medicine can help patients stop being dependent on taking medications daily, avoid surgery, feel younger and more energized, help couples perform their marital enjoyment at older ages as if they just got married, and help prevent the manifestation of complications of some diseases.

Despite the fact that there are lots of medical applications of Regenerative Medicine that people are already benefiting from all over the world, there is still a lot of benefits and further understanding that we do not know yet. What we know is that Autologous Adult Stem Cell Therapy is safe without risk of rejection of the transplanted stem cells. Nigeria should not be left behind in this field of Medicine, and I understand that it may not yet be affordable for everyone today but Health is Wealth and you cannot put a price on someone’s health. The Federal Government of Nigeria should get more involved than they currently are, providing more grants to medical institutions with the ultimate goal of making Regenerative Medicine more affordable for most Nigerians and making Nigeria the center for medical tourism in Africa.

The benefits of adult stem cell therapy are enormous, and there is much more to be discovered. Some of the common treatable ailments are: diabetes, hypertension, aging (generalized treatment), fatigue, fibromyalgia, chronic kidney disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack (myocardial infarction), stroke, brain injury, Alzheimer’s Disease, autism, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, leukemia, COPD (lung disease), Crohn’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple joint pain, back pain, plantar fasciitis, post-surgical hip pain, chronic non-healing wounds, hair thinning, erectile dysfunction, female sexual dysfunction, female urinary incontinence, infertility, etc. As for the Infertility treatment, the stem cell transplantation increases the chances of becoming fertile and/or the success rate of In vitro fertilization (IVF). A Nigerian doctor is currently leading human clinical studies about direct target organ treatment for premature ovarian failure in Georgia, USA.

There are situations where orthodox medicine has no suitable answers. For example, no medication regenerates pancreatic or kidney cells, no good medication for female sexual dysfunction affecting married couples, no medication reverses the symptoms and progression of multiple sclerosis, no medication reverses the damages done by Diabetes to the eyes or kidneys, no medication regenerate degenerative joint disease, just to mention few. In such cases, regenerative medicine may just be the right answer. If only because of the Anti-Ageing benefits of Autologous Adult Adipose-derived Stem Cell Therapy, it is noteworthy to mention that everyone will benefit from regenerative medicine at one point or the other in their lives.

These treatments are being procured already in Nigeria, at least in Lagos and Abuja. Patients are now being treated in Nigeria using adult stem cells and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy without having to travel abroad.

Dr. David Ikudayisi is of Glory Wellness and Regenerative Centre. The center can be reached via info@glorywellness.org