Exosomes – the next generation of stem cell therapy – is upon us, and today I am going to get you quickly up to speed with what you must know.
Stem cell therapy has been used in Orthopedic applications since the early 2000s! This is the most startling fact, as it seems many people are just hearing about these powerful treatments.
I have been involved in the field of Regenerative Medicine, involving the use of stem cells, and other treatments such as PRP (platelet rich plasma) now for the past decade.
There have been many advancements in that time:
- Most procedures can now be done safely in an office setting (Translation: used to all be done in a hospital operating room)
- The technique to harvest cells from bone marrow is far less invasive (Translation: smaller needles and less volume of bone marrow needed)
- The procedure is far less painful – to extract bone marrow, and post-procedure (Translation: now 3-5 days on average of post-treatment soreness at the sites)
- Outcomes have improved to around 70-75% of good candidates reporting they are “happy” at 6 months following stem cell therapy treatment
- Longer lasting outcomes – not uncommon now for patients to have 2, 3, 4, or more years of continued benefit from their first treatment meaning the price of treatment is effectively spread ideally over several years. (Translation: Your investment in these elective treatments will return you more than they ever have!)
- Our understanding of how stem cell therapy is working in Orthopedic/Pain medicine has grown exponentially (Translation: It is more than a full-time job to keep up with all the research and published literature out there – thank goodness you have me!)
Ok, so what’s new?
Not much new has been developed for many years…until 2014.
I mentioned above the advancements in current technology, i.e. use of bone marrow stem cells and platelet therapy, but nothing truly new has evolved.
Stem cell exosome therapy is the next step in the evolution of stem cell therapy.
Developed and patented in 2014, studied for the past 5 years, and available now – in my practice.
What are stem cell exosomes?
- Packets of powerful growth factors that lower inflammation, stimulate healing, and turn on regeneration of damaged cells in the body
- Also contain ribonucleic acid (RNA), which is essentially the blueprint instructions needed to build new cells or tissues in the body
- They are derived from umbilical cord stem cells (donated from live births) from umbilical cord blood. Within the blood are stem cells that can be separated, and then the growth factors are released from the stem cells, processed, preserved, and frozen.
- Do not contain cells, but the powerful growth factors from the cells.
Why are they so powerful?
- Because they are from Day 1 old cells, they are much more “youthful” than the stem cells you may have in your body, and this may be a huge advantage to activating regeneration and repair. (I’ll explain more in a future email).
- Exosomes are super tiny! – about 1000 times smaller than stem cells – so they can go places stem cells cannot, safely. We are using these products in spinal conditions where it may not be safe to inject other products into the spaces near the nerves.
- They trigger “stem cell stimulation” of your own (autologous) stem cells
Why are they safe to inject into other patients?
- Because exosome products have no cells, just growth factors, there is no opportunity for a cell to cell “rejection” as can happen with other “store bought” cell/cell products
- The product we use is sterile. NOT ALL products out there are. Some are aseptic, but that is different than sterile. There was a recent rash of infections with another aseptic umbilical cord product. This is the reason why I am SO selective with what I will use in my practice.
Where are we seeing the most success?
- Same applications as bone marrow stem cell therapy – painful joint conditions such as osteoarthritis, meniscus tears; partial rotator cuff and other tendon tears.
- THIS is where it is interesting – patients who DID NOT respond to their own cells (platelets, stem cells) if they had a prior treatment may have a more powerful effect with exosomes. (Again, more in a future email)
- Patients who have had success with their own cells but who are looking to amplify the response to get even better, or longer lasting, results.
- Patients where we cannot use their own cells – due to blood conditions where we cannot safely use their cells, on blood-thinning medications that cannot be stopped, prior/active cancer.
- Older patients in the 75+ age bracket
- For patients that do not want to go through a bone marrow harvest procedure (very little pain with exosomes treatment as they can be injected through tiny needles)
So, there you have it.
The short story on what will be the next big chapter, as we continue to write the book on stem cell therapy and Regenerative Medicine.
Want to know if you are a candidate for Regenerative Medicine treatments, including exosomes and stem cell therapy?
Contact us for a quick discovery call so we can learn more about your situation, and help you see if stem cell or exosomes therapy is the perfect match for you.