Cellular Therapy is a form of regenerative medicine that utilizes the body’s natural healing mechanism to treat various conditions.
Cellular Therapies are being used in regenerative medicine to renew and repair diseased or damaged tissues, and have shown promising results in treatments of various orthopaedic, cardiovascular, neuromuscular and autoimmune conditions.
Cellular Therapies are present in all of us acting like a repair system for the body. However, with increased age sometimes the optimum amount of cellular therapies are not delivered to the injured area. The goal of Cellular Therapy therapy is to amplify the natural repair system of the patient’s body.
Types of cellular therapies
There are two major types of cellular therapies embryonic cellular therapies and adult cellular therapies. Embryonic cellular therapies (ESCs) are cellular therapies derived from human embryos. They are pluripotent, which means they have the ability to develop into almost any of the various cell types of the body.
As the embryo develops and forms a baby, cellular therapies are distributed throughout the body where they reside in specific pockets of each tissue, such as the bone marrow and blood. As we age, these cells function to renew old and worn out tissue cells. These are called adult cellular therapies or somatic cellular therapies. Like embryonic cellular therapies, adult cellular therapies can also replicate into more than one cell type, but their replication is restricted to a limited number of cell types.
Use of cellular therapies in Orthopaedics
The unique self-regeneration and differentiating ability of cellular therapies has many applications in the field of Orthopaedics. The potential benefits include the possible healing of:
- Bone defects
- Nonunion fractures
- Avascular necrosis
- Cartilage injuries
- Tendon & Ligament injuries
- Meniscal damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Intravertebral disc degeneration
- Muscular dystrophies
Adult cellular therapies can be harvested from many areas in the body. These include adipose tissue (fat), bone marrow, peripheral blood, and umbilical cord blood. The mesenchymal cellular therapy is the most commonly harvested. These have the ability to turn into cells that form the musculoskeletal system such as tendons, ligaments, and articular cartilage. To obtain cellular therapies from the bone marrow, a needle is inserted into the iliac crest of the pelvic bone to extract the cellular therapies.
Currently, cellular therapy is used to treat various degenerative conditions of the shoulder, knees, hips, and spine. cellular therapies are also being used in the treatment of various soft tissue (muscle, ligaments and tendons) as well as bone-related injuries.
Who is a Good Candidate for a Cellular Therapy Procedure?
You may be a good candidate for cellular therapy if you have been suffering from joint pain and want to improve your quality of life while avoiding complications related to invasive surgical procedures.
The procedure begins with your doctor extracting cellular therapies from your own bone marrow. Bone marrow is usually aspirated from your hip region. Your doctor will first clean and numb your hip area. A needle is then introduced into an area of your pelvic bone known as the iliac crest. Bone marrow is then aspirated using a special syringe and the sample obtained is sent to the laboratory. In the laboratory, the aspirate is spun in a machine for 10 to 15 minutes and a concentrated cellular therapy sample is separated.
Your doctor then cleans and numbs your affected area to be treated and then, under the guidance of special x-rays, injects the cellular therapies into the diseased region. The whole procedure usually takes less than one hour, and you may return home on the same day of the procedure.