Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine
How it Works
Stem cell therapy, also known as regenerative medicine repairs dysfunctional or injured tissue using stem cells.
Stem cells are the cells from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated. Under the right conditions stem cells can divide to form more cells, called daughter cells.
These daughter cells either become new stem cells (self-renewal) or become other cells (differentiation) with a more specific function, such as blood cells, brain cells, heart muscle cells or bone cells. No other cell in the body has the natural ability to generate new cell types.
Where it Comes From
Although we think of stem cells as being a recent discovery, a Russian histologist first coined the term “stem cell” in 1908.
Since then, scientists from all over the world have studied stem cells in search of cures for diseases and injuries.
In 1956, Edward Thomas made history when he injected a 3 year old leukemia patient with bone marrow stem cells that had been harvested from her identical, healthy twin. In 1968, University of Minnesota doctors became the first in the world to use bone marrow transplants to cure an infant with X-linked lymphopenic immune deficiency, and another with Wishkott-Aldrich syndrome.
In the late 1970s discoveries in stem cell research began to rapidly accelerate. Since then, research has continued to progress. Scientists hope stem cells can be used to treat conditions that traditional medicine has been unable to address, like cancer and diabetes.
What’s in the Tissue to Make It Work
Stem cells differ from other kinds of cells in the body. All stem cells, regardless of their source, have three general properties:
- They are capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods
- They are unspecialized
- They can give rise to specialized cell types
One of the fundamental properties of a stem cell is that it does not have any tissue-specific structures that allow it to perform specialized functions. In contrast, a blood cell is a differentiated cell, because it is already a specific kind of cell. When a stem cell divides, the new cells may either become another stem cell or a specific cell, such as a blood cell, a brain cell or a muscle cell.
How it Can Be Used
Our Regenerative Medicine Program treats injuries to muscles, tendons, ligaments, meniscus and other damaged tissues.
Our program has demonstrated the potential to repair damaged tissues, accelerate the healing process, and reduce or resolve pain while also improving function.