The Power of Stem Cells
In 2006, researchers made a breakthrough by identifying conditions that would allow some specialized adult cells to be “reprogrammed” genetically to assume a stem cell-like state. This new type of stem cell is called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC’s).
Stem cells are important for living organisms for many reasons. In the 3- to 5-day-old embryo, called a blastocyst, the inner cells give rise to the entire body of the organism, including all of the many specialized cell types and organs such as the heart, lungs, skin, sperm, eggs and other tissues. In some adult tissues, such as bone marrow, muscle, and brain, discrete populations of adult stem cells generate replacements for cells that are lost through normal wear and tear, injury, or disease. Given their unique regenerative abilities, stem cells oﬀer new potentials for treating diseases such as diabetes, and heart disease. However, much work remains to be done in the laboratory and the clinic to understand how to use these cells for cell-based therapies to treat disease, which is also referred to as regenerative or reparative medicine.
Laboratory studies of stem cells enable scientists to learn about the cells’ essential properties and what makes them diﬀerent from specialized cell types. Scientists are already using stem cells in the laboratory to screen new drugs and to develop model systems to study normal growth and identify the causes of birth defects.
Research on stem cells continues to advance knowledge about how an organism develops from a single cell and how healthy cells replace damaged cells in adult organisms. Stem cell research is one of the most fascinating areas of contemporary biology, but, as with many expanding ﬁelds of scientiﬁc inquiry, research on stem cells raises scientiﬁc questions as rapidly as it generates new discoveries.
What is Regenerative Medicine?
Regenerative medicine uses stem cells and allograft products to oﬀer alternative solutions to costly surgeries and oﬀers hope for people with conditions that today are beyond repair.
Current Treatments Utilizing Regenerative Medicine
Osteoarthritis of the joints including knee, hip, shoulder and ankle joints
Chronic partial rotator cuﬀ tears, muscular tears, persistent partial tendon tears, such as tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, quadriceps and patellar tendon tears
Meniscal (cartilage) tears in the knee, Sacroiliac joint pain, chronic radiculopathy (pinched nerve), discogenic back pain, spinal facet pain
Aseptic processing is crucial for biologic-based products as we strive to maintain the viability of the cellular components, growth factors, and protein messengers. Aseptic techniques are deployed to ensure the absence of pathogenic organisms so as to protect the patient from infection and to prevent the spread of pathogens. If during processing these cells were destroyed and the proteins denatured, they would no longer be viable and their usefulness would be negated.
In an aseptic process, the container/closure is subjected to sterilization methods separately, as appropriate, and then brought together with the biologic allograft. Because there is no process to sterilize the product in its final container, it is crucial the containers be filled and sealed under the most stringent aseptic technique possible.
The goal of aseptic processing is to minimize the risk of introducing any microbial contaminant into our product as it moves through the manufacturing process. We must be absolutely certain that there is no microbial contamination of the final sealed product. We utilize various approved techniques to ensure our allograft products are free of contaminants, thereby reducing the risk of infection to the patient.
Investigating the different types of stem cells
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC’s) are engineered in labs to reprogram tissue-specific cells to operate like embryonic stem cells. While iPSC’s are designed to replicate the characteristics of embryonic stem cells such as giving rise to every cell type in the body, there are discrepancies between the two. Because iPSC’s can be designated to serve a specific function, researchers are experimenting with ways to fully convert iPSC’s into a readily available source of stem cells for regenerative therapy. They are vital in helping researchers study the development of organisms, discovering how diseases progress and providing a basis for creating and testing new medical treatments.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC’s) are stromal cells that are normally found in the bone marrow. However, MSC’s can be grown from other tissue material as well such as cord blood, peripheral blood, fetal liver, lung, and fallopian tube. Because they are multipotent stem cells, they are capable of differentiating to form cell types like adipocytes, chondrocytes, osteocytes and cardiomyocytes. Their high capacity for self-renewal gives MSC’s great potential for replacing or repairing damaged tissue such as bone, cartilage, muscle, tendons, and skin.