On our blog, we frequently talk about adipose derived stem cell therapy. Occasionally, we may also mention mesenchymal stem cells or mesenchymal stem cell therapy. But what does this mean exactly?

What are stem cells and where do they come from?

Stem cells are incredibly unique because they have the ability to self-renew and to develop into many different cell types. They are a crucial part of the body’s natural repair system, helping to heal and regenerate damaged tissues. There are multiple types of stem cells found all throughout the body at different stages of life.

Most people have heard of embryonic stem cells and cord blood stem cells. Embryonic stem cells exist only at the earliest stages of development. They are pluripotent, meaning they can differentiate into any cell type. The function of embryonic stem cells is to form whole organs and organisms. The use of embryonic stem cells outside of the creation of a body is limited and there are no FDA approved embryonic stem cell treatments.

Cord blood stem cells are found in the blood vessels of the placenta and the umbilical cord. These stem cells are multipotent, meaning they are limited in the types of cells they can differentiate into. The FDA has approved the use of cord blood for blood cancers such as leukemias and lymphomas as well as certain blood disorders like Sickle Cell Disease.

Adult stem cells, sometimes called somatic cells, include multiple types of stem cells that are present in almost all tissues of the adult body. They can be multipotent or unipotent, meaning they can only differentiate into one type of cell. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent adult stem cells that have demonstrated the ability to differentiate into multiple cell types including bone, ligament, muscle, and more. MSCs are found in multiple tissues throughout the body. When used for stem cell therapy however, MSCs are most commonly collected from adipose tissue or bone marrow.

What do MSCs do and what are they used for?

Mesenchymal stem cells have multiple modes of action that make them a potential therapeutic option for a wide array of conditions. We already discussed their ability to differentiate into multiple different cell types, but there is so much more! MSCs have demonstrated the ability to migrate to areas of injury and down-regulate inflammatory responses. They have also demonstrated immunomodulatory characteristics. In addition, MSCs have shown the ability to promote revascularization and support cell survival.

There are numerous clinical trials to evaluate the use of mesenchymal stem cells for various conditions. Studies range from orthopedic conditions to organ diseases to immune-mediated diseases and more. At Personalized Stem Cells, our primary focus is orthopedics, and we recently submitted clinical trial data to the FDA for a knee osteoarthritis study. That being said, we also intend to pursue FDA approval for a traumatic brain injury study. And last year, we received FDA approval for a COVID-19 stem cell clinical trial. You can read more about that here.

It is important to note that the FDA regulates cell-based therapies in the United States and not all advertised procedures are legal. We are very adamant about offering FDA approved clinical trials. So, if you are considering stem cell therapy for yourself or a loved one, we encourage you to do as much research as possible to ensure you are receiving a legitimate and legal treatment. You can visit the FDA website for more information about stem cell therapy regulation and clinicaltrials.gov to learn what clinical trials are currently available.