The loss of this slippery, shock-absorbing layer of tissue, called articular cartilage, is responsible for many cases of joint pain and arthritis, affecting more than 55 million Americans. Nearly 1 in 4 adult Americans suffer from arthritis, and many more suffer from joint pain and swelling in general. Stem cells are often mixed with a scaffold so that the cells remain in the general vicinity of the damaged tissue. A Singapore study has shown that adipose-derived stem cells, which are derived from fat, can aid in cartilage regeneration when used with a resorbable scaffold.
It has also been suggested that stem cells could release cytokines and proteins that could help combat neurogenic pain, which would have numerous benefits in treating osteoarthritis pain. The work is based on previous research at Stanford that resulted in the isolation of the skeletal stem cell, a cell that automatically renews itself and is also responsible for the production of bone, cartilage and a special type of cell that helps blood cells develop in the bone marrow. Stanford researchers discovered how to regenerate articular cartilage by first causing minor injury to joint tissue and then using chemical signals to direct the growth of skeletal stem cells as the lesions heal. In recent years, stem cell therapy has been hailed as a miracle cure for many conditions, from wrinkles to spinal repair.
Bennett has performed simple injections of stem cells into the joints for patients who do not want surgery with very promising results. The use of this donated material is not stem cell therapy, as no credible research has shown that there are real live stem cells in the treatment. The use of bone marrow aspirate is based on the action of stem cells to initiate and guide this joint repair. In addition, the team is refining its cell growth methods to better mimic the normal development of cartilage and bone cells.
The bone marrow also contains hematopoietic stem cells that give rise to white and red blood cells and platelets. Chan is a member of the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and Immunology. The full range of limitations and possibilities, with regard to the clinical application of various stem cells, has not yet been established, but the advantages of stem cells seem obvious. Now, at Hopkins, Elisseeff and her colleagues are placing stem cells in their hydrogels and persuading them to produce cartilage and an early form of bone within the polymer framework.
Native stem cell clinics offer stem cell therapy and PRP injection therapy for knee pain, hip pain and shoulder pain and arthritis of the knee, hip and shoulder. Depending on certain conditions and signals in the body, stem cells are directed to where they are needed.