What is Regenerative Medicine?

Regenerative medicine is the process of replacing, renewing or engineering human cells, tissues, organs, proteins, etc for the purposes of restoring function and homeostasis in the body. It uses any means to heal otherwise nonfunctional cells, tissues and organs. One of the key components of regenerative medicine is the use of cell replacement strategies which usually requires stem cells.

What are Stem Cells?

These are unspecialized cells in our bodies that have the capacity to change into any healthy cell in our body. Meaning they can change into skin, bones, heart and muscle cells to name a few. They have the ability to replicate substantially as compared to normal somatic cells such as skin. Stem cells are located throughout our body in almost every organ and tissue such as bone marrow, fat, teeth, muscles, etc. However, as other cells in our body, stem cells also age as we do. That is why LIVEYON uses stem cells from umbilical cord tissue which are young and healthy.

Other Stem Cell Sources

Liveyon’s stem cells are derived exclusively from umbilical cord tissue, which is the safest and least-invasive method of extraction available. Other methods include:

Embryonic tissue: Most embryonic stem cells (human embryonic stem cells, or hESCs) are derived from embryos donated from fertility clinics that perform in vitro fertilization, or IVF. 

Bone marrow: Adult stem cells can be extracted from bone marrow by aspiration, typically from the superior iliac crest or the sternum. This process may be painful, though much research has been done to reduce any pain incurred by patients during extraction. 

Adipose tissue: Adipose-derived stem cells come from a patient’s fat tissue, which is surgically extracted via liposuction under general anesthesia. 

A Look Back: The History of Stem Cell

Stem cells have been around for well over a century. In fact, the term stem cell was used as early as 1868 and in 1909, Alexander Maximow lectured at the Berlin Hematological Society on a theory that all blood cells come from the same ancestor cell…..a stem cell. In 1968, the first bone marrow transplant occurred which was successful due to stem cells in the bone marrow. In 1978, stem cells were discovered in human cord blood. From here on there was many new types of stem cells discovered and the world of regenerative medicine commenced to take shape and show much promise. Presently, stem cells have the capacity to replace bone, fat, cartilage, heart tissue, muscle, etc. This shows much promise for many disease states. In fact, there are greater than 5000 clinical studies with stem cells found on the United States clinictrials.gov website. This demonstrates the progress and promise of stem cells.  

How Do Stem Cells Function?  

  • Stem cells have the capacity to migrate to injured tissues, a phenomenon called homing. This occurs by injury/disease signals that are released from the distressed cells/tissue. Once stem cells are delivered to a site of injury or deployed into the blood stream they go to these distressed signals and dock on adjacent cells to commence performing their job.
  • 1. Serve as a cell replacement where they change into the needed cell type such as a muscle cell. This is ideal for traumatic injuries and orthopedic indications.
  • 2. They do not express specific HLAs which help them avoid the immune system. In fact, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) do this so well that they are in clinical studies for graft vs host disease and have been approved for pediatric graft vs host disease in Canada. These studies and data support the notion that the cells are safe to use as an “off the shelf” product such as LIVEYONs product (add link to article that is presently in this area now here).
  • 3. They dock on an adjacent cell and release proteins called growth factors, cytokines and chemokines. These factors help control many aspects systemically.
  •           i. Control the immune system and regulate inflammation which is a key mediator of diseases of aging and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
  • ii. Help to increase new blood vessel formation which aids in adding vasculature so that tissues can receive proper blood flow and the correct nutrients needed to heal such is the case in stroke, peripheral artery disease and heart disease.
  • iii. Provide trophic support for surrounding tissues and help host endogenous repair. This works great when used for orthopedics as it causes signals to be released which may now activate your own stem cells to repair a knee for instance. In case of diabetes, it may help any remaining beta cells to reproduce or function optimally.  
As research continues, the field of regenerative medicine and stem cells evolves into the greatest hope for those suffering from degenerative disease and looking for methods to improve their quality of life.