Regenerative medicine isn’t likely to be a topic of discussion at the typical American dinner table. Still, most people have heard of regenerative therapies like platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapies. What they might not know is that regenerative therapy is making huge strides in Western medicine.
It wasn’t long ago that Western medicine considered regenerative therapies little more than modern medical quackery. Unfortunately, unscrupulous practitioners helped encourage that reputation by offering therapies they should not have offered. Equally unfortunate is that a few patients were injured as a result.
Nonetheless, legitimate research into regenerative therapies has continued unabated. That research is producing results. Meanwhile, regenerative medicine clinics offering already approved therapies are helping patients across the country.
PRP for Soft Tissue Injuries
One of the more commonly utilized regenerative therapies is PRP therapy. Practitioners generally recommend it for soft tissue injuries like muscle tears and strained ligaments.
The pain doctors at Lone Star Pain Medicine in Weatherford, TX offer PRP injections when these are appropriate. According to Lone Star, though the FDA has not formally approved PRP injections after looking at clinical studies, they have given approval to regenerative therapies that rely on minimally manipulated autologous material. PRP injections fall under that classification.
The exact mechanism behind PRP therapy isn’t exactly clear. Research is ongoing. The current thinking is that injecting PRP into the affected tissue helps by signaling the body to begin healing the injury. PRP contains concentrated platelets along with growth factors already known to promote healing.
Stem Cell Injections
Stem cell injections using autologous material are similar to PRP injections. For the record, autologous material is biological material donated by the patient being treated. If you were to get an autologous stem cell injection, the stem cells would be yours. They would be extracted from bone marrow or fat tissue, then injected into the injury site after minimal processing.
Some regenerative medicine practitioners recommend stem cell injections to treat osteoarthritis. Others recommend them for soft tissue injuries. Again, the thinking is that flooding injured tissue with stem cells triggers the body to start healing.
While PRP and stem cell injections are fairly routine these days, a new procedure known as tissue nanotransfection is just beginning to emerge. If it proves to be everything its developers promise, it will literally change the way Western medicine is practiced.
Tissue nanotransfection makes use of a minimally invasive nanochip transplantation. The nanochip delivers programmed electric sparks to encourage gene delivery at a particular site. The genes then trigger the body to transform skin tissue into other types of tissue – like nerve cells and blood vessels.
Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine have discovered that they can grow muscle tissue fairly reliably by applying the nanotransfection treatment for a period of seven days. But there is one caveat: they have only tested the procedure in lab rats. Even so, being able to effectively treat volumetric muscle loss is pretty exciting.
Healing Rather Than Treating
Whether it is PRP therapy, stem cell injections, or tissue nanotransfection, the goal of regenerative medicine is to heal rather than just treat. Therein lies the difference between regenerative therapies and Western medicine.
Western medicine focuses on alleviating symptoms while the body does what it can to heal. Sometimes, invasive procedures have to do what the body will not do for itself.
Regenerative therapies are designed to trigger the body to do what it is naturally designed to do. When it works, patients experience more than just symptom relief. They experience actual healing – with all its implications.