Personalized Stem Cell’s FDA-approved clinical trial is underway and we thought it important to share information about how stem cells work.  While a great deal of research has been done on stem cells and their potential mechanisms of action, there is still so much to learn!  In fact, one benefit of our clinical trial is the potential to gather information and data about the treatment of osteoarthritis in the knee with autologous adipose-derived stem cells.

As years of research has taught us, stem cells do not rely on a single mechanism of action.  Initially it was thought that the ability of stem cells to differentiate into a number of different tissue types was the primary function of regenerative cells.  However, researchers have discovered several potential mechanisms of action, all of which may contribute to increased healing and comfort for the patient.  Let’s explore some of these mechanisms of action.

In general, in vitro (outside the living body) studies demonstrate that stem cells limit inflammatory responses and promote anti-inflammatory pathways.  When present in an inflammatory environment, data suggests that stem cells may alter cytokine secretion to shift the environment from pro- to anti-inflammatory.  Stem cells have also been shown to demonstrate immunomodulatory characteristics and the ability to help balance a patient’s immune system.

Trophic Support
Multiple studies have demonstrated that stem cells secrete cytokines and growth factors which support angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels), tissue remodeling, differentiation, and antiapoptotic events.  Simply put, trophic support is a fancy way to say stem cells secrete material that supports cellular growth, differentiation, and survival, all of which are necessary components of quality healing.

One particularly useful skill of stem cells is their ability to home, or migrate, to areas of injury or inflammation.  Stem cells given intravenously have been shown to migrate from the site of injection to a distant site where they may be needed for a given physiological event such as injured tissue that requires healing.

In summary, stem cells utilize multiple modes of action, some of which may not be completely understood yet.  However, the literature suggests that patients who receive autologous adipose-derived stem cell therapy for orthopedic conditions may experience a reduction in pain, improved range of motion, and an improved quality of life.