What is a Stem Cell?
Stem cells are cells in the body that have a remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types and tissues. In many tissues, stem cells serve as a type of internal repair system, dividing without limit to replenish and repair other cells in the body. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.
There are two important characteristics that differentiate stem cells from other types of cells in the body. First, they are unspecialized cells capable of renewing themselves through cell division, sometimes after long periods of inactivity. Second, under certain physiologic or experimental conditions, they can be induced to become tissue- or organ-specific cells with special functions. In some organs, such as the gut and bone marrow, stem cells regularly divide to repair and replace worn out or damaged tissues. In other organs, however, such as the pancreas and the heart, stem cells only divide under special conditions.
There are 3 main types of stem cells: Adult Mesenchymal Stem Cells, Umbilical Cord Stem Cells, and Embryonic Stem Cells
1. Autologous Stem Cells (in our case, Adult Mesenchymal Stem Cells)
Adult Mesenchymal Stem Cells are cells found and extracted from the patient’s own body. Adult stem cells may be extracted from bone marrow, fat, and peripheral blood. Adipose or fat tissue is one of the richest sources of mesenchymal stem cells. There are 500 times more mesenchymal stem cells in 1 gram of fat than there are in 1 gram of bone marrow. For this reason, doctors at SCHI extract adult stem cells from fat tissue. The process is timely, less painful, and more effective. Mesenchymal stem cells give rise to a variety of cell types, including bone cells, cartilage cells, fat cells, pancreatic islet cells and connective tissue cells such as those found in tendons. Experimental studies suggest fat derived stem cells not only can develop into new tissues, but also suppress pathological immune responses as seen in autoimmune diseases.
Adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells are multi-potent (are able to differentiate into multiple tissues) and are being used for a wide range of therapeutic applications. Because we extract these cells using a mini liposuction technique, adipose derived cells represent an abundant and readily accessible source of adult stem cells.
Adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells can re-grow blood vessels to:
2. Umbilical Cord Stem Cells
Umbilical cord stem cells are derived from the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies. Cord blood is an invaluable source of stem cells that can be used to treat a variety of medical conditions. Cord blood stem cells can be used but not limited in treating the following:
3. Embryonic Stem Cells
Embryonic stem cells as their name suggests, are derived from embryos. While there is ongoing research and many advancements with these types of stem cells, we at SCHI do not treat with or conduct any research with embryonic stem cells.