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Stem Cell Therapy vs. Joint Repair
When are you too old for joint repair?
Prolotherapists see a number of patients who believe or were told that they were too old for knee repair. This is a bit shocking to hear as the science of joint repair focuses on healing the elderly patient. Interestingly, stem cell therapies are now being studied as an alternative for joint repair in elderly patients.
New use of stem cells for degenerative joint disease
In new research, one company targeted “ultra-octogenarian” patients with a gel product that stimulates their stems cells to repair their knees.1 This company did a study in which they presented a method for treating and structurally improving articulations (cartilage) affected by degenerative joint disease (DJD). The focus of this analysis was on two groups of patients: the first comprised patients over eighty years old, and the second comprised patients aged 45 to 55 years. The first group (the ultra-octogenarians) was a high surgical risk and both groups had been non-responders to current conservative therapies.
They developed a gel product to “stimulate the local innate stem cells…in order induce tissue repair.” From 2003 until 2009, they treated 948 patients. As mentioned, the first group consisted of 86 ultra-octogenarian patients with severe osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip and/or knee, and the second group comprised of 90 younger patients (around 50 years old) affected by the same disease. Treated patients were clinically and radiologically evaluated with a follow-up of six to 48 months. Results showed a statistically significant improvement in terms of pain and joint mobility. Some patients showed clear improvement in radiological imaging.
Stem cell therapy in the elderly
The science surrounding stem cells for the treatment of osteoarthritis in the elderly is still somewhat in its infancy, as such researchers are looking at the potential of the elderly stem cell to provide a healing response. Here research is presented that stem cells in ultra-octogenarians can be stimulated to self-repair Degenerative Joint Disease. This study does caution that elderly stem cells should not be dismissed as having limited potency, “Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are self-renewing, multipotent cells that could potentially be used to repair injured cartilage in diseases such as osteoarthritis (OA) — MSC’s from elderly patients with osteoarthritis may still display significant chondrogenic potential…”2
In another study, researchers found viability and potency even in stem cells from patients with advanced osteoarthritis.3 Diseased and damaged cartilage have a high number of repair cells, that could also be exploited.
Significant progress is being made in the scientific community on the function of stem cells in the treatment of the “aged” patient, and what this research is showing and our own clinical observations are showing is that patients deep into their 80′s and even 90′s can benefit from stem cell therapy as it is used as a part of comprehensive Prolotherapy. Would you like help finding a Prolotherapy doctor who uses Stem Cells?
1. Di Nicola V, Di Nicola R.Self-Repair in Degenerative Joint Disease. Curr Aging Sci. 2013 Jan 21. [Epub ahead of print]
2. Alegre-Aguarón E, Desportes P, García-Álvarez F, Castiella T, Larrad L, Martínez-Lorenzo MJ. Differences in surface marker expression and chondrogenic potential among various tissue-derived mesenchymal cells from elderly patients with osteoarthritis. Cells Tissues Organs. 2012;196(3):231-40. doi: 10.1159/000334400. Epub 2012 Mar 20.
3.Labusca L, Zugun-Eloae F, Shaw G, Botez P, Barry F, Mashayekhi K. Isolation and phenotypic characterisation of stem cells from late stage osteoarthritic mesenchymal tissues. Curr Stem Cell Res Ther. 2012 Sep;7(5):319-28.