In the last few years, there have been massive advances in the research and success rate of orthobiologics and cellular therapy. These treatments hold a great deal of promise to treat patients in routine clinical practices. 

What is Regenerative Medicine?

Regenerative medicine is the process of harnessing the body’s own cells to heal itself. Regenerating the damaged tissue or cells is done by stimulating the body’s own natural ability to heal itself. This type of medicine allows physicians and specialists to utilize these cells and to relocate them to a patient’s target areas on their body.

Cell-Based Therapy

“Science is rapidly transforming how we think about the future of medicine,” said ISSCR president Douglas Melton. “The field is actively working to address how we facilitate getting potential therapies from the lab bench to clinical application.”

These specific types of cells can develop into many different types of cells in the body, which is why orthobiologic therapy is so beneficial in the role of regenerative medicine. Orthobiologics serve as a repair system and can hypothetically divide exponentially to regrow other cells as long as the patient is still alive. 

Research is constantly underway to determine cellular therapy application and uses in transplants and regenerative medicine. 

How are Cell-Based and Orthobiologic Treatments Related?

Because regenerative medicine harnesses the body’s ability to heal itself and regrow cells and tissue, there is a direct correlation between the use of orthobiologics and cellular therapy, including adult and induced pluripotent cells.  These types of cells may be used in developmental biology to determine the genes and pathways involved in how cells turn into specific cell types such as liver or muscle cells. Orthobiologics are also used to test new Pharma drugs and determine how effective new drugs are to particular diseases and conditions.  These types of cells play a crucial role in Cell-Based Therapy: a therapy that utilizes the understanding of cell development, how they morph into different cell types, and how they are maintained. 

What Conditions Cell-Based Therapy Can Treat

Cellular therapy is beneficial to patients with the following injuries or diseases: 

  • Spinal Cord injuries
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Osteoarthritis

Understanding cellular development may lead to one day being able to replace the need for organ donations or reduce the complications that go along with it, such as rejection or tissue insufficiency. 

Types of Cellular Therapy and Regenerative Medicine

Depending on the site and degree of injury, the regenerative medicine specialist may recommend the following treatments (or a combination of them):

·  Platelet Rich Plasma puts the healing properties of the patient’s blood to work to heal damaged joints, tendons, and muscles. The platelets in blood release growth factors and proteins that promote tissue repair, while the plasma carries the hormones, electrolytes, and nutrients required to nourish cells during the healing process. To be truly effective, PRP treatments should be customized to the particular injury by creating specific formulations for each type of tissue being treated (muscle, tendon, ligament, etc.)

·   Orthobiologics use cells derived from the patient’s own bone marrow or adipose (fat) tissue called “pericytes.” These cells produce molecules that direct other cells in the area to form new blood vessels, awaken other cells, and encourage newly forming cells to produce collagen and other proteins essential for creating new healthy tissues. These cells have the unique ability to develop into the specific kind of cell needed, whether that be a tendon, ligament, cartilage, or bone. Skilled regenerative medicine practitioners use highly specialized centrifuges to prepare high concentrations of the cells delivered directly to the injured area to become the specific kind of cell needed to address the injury.

·   Prolotherapy (Proliferative Therapy) injects dextrose and other medications into a chronically injured ligament, tendon, joint, or another body part to help the body jump-start its own natural healing response. In some cases, prolotherapy can be used with platelet-rich plasma to expedite healing. 

Regenerative medicine has entered the world of clinical practice thanks to quickly evolving technology and advancements in understanding how cells work in the body. As research continues, the field of Orthobiologics and cellular therapy will grow and give doctors the ability to treat many conditions and diseases.