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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

STEM CELL Therapy: Once Considered Medical Waste, Umbilical Cord Blood Might Hold The Future Of Regenerative Medicine

Apr 03, 2019 04:48PM ● By Allison Gorman

Medical scientists have high hopes for stem cell therapy (SCT), and it’s easy to understand why. Stem cells are uniquely designed by nature to help the body renew itself, and so the idea behind the therapy is to harness that regenerative power to restore deteriorated or inflamed tissue, treat chronic conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and offer new, more effective therapies for certain cancers.

Research on the potential uses and outcomes of SCT is ongoing. But one thing is already clear: The most promising SCT uses stem cells found in human umbilical cord blood resulting from healthy live births. It turns out that something once considered medical waste might hold the promise to better health.

Ethically Donated Stem Cells 

Umbilical cord blood, which is increasingly being donated for therapeutic use, is a rich source of embryonic stem cells. Unlike other cells, when embryonic stem cells divide, they can become either new stem cells or, in the right conditions in the body or the laboratory, specialized cells with a more specific function, such as brain cells, heart muscle cells or bone cells. 

It’s important to note that “adult” stem cells, which come from bone marrow, fat cells or blood, can’t turn into specialized cells. While some types of SCT use adult stem cells taken from the patient’s own body, these treatments are not considered as potentially effective as those using embryonic stem cells. 

According to Jeneen Interlandi, writing for the January 11, 2018, issue of Consumer Reports, “Access to embryonic stem cells is federally monitored, but adult stem cells … are subject to relatively few federal regulations.”

The use of donated umbilical cord blood as a source of embryonic stem cells is, therefore, a medical breakthrough. It offers far greater potential for regenerative treatment without any ethical concerns.  

Great Medical Promise

In an article in Scientific American, Gregory Hale, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, writes that umbilical cord blood is being used to treat some diseases that would traditionally be treated with bone marrow transplants, such as leukemia, sickle cell anemia and Hodgkin’s disease. 

“The future holds great promise for the use of umbilical cord blood stem cells,” he concludes.

While the FDA regulates SCT and has cleared it for use and research, it has not yet approved it for any specific treatments, says Kevin Schopmeyer, M.D., who provides umbilical cord SCT at Ageless Solutions, in Navarre. However, the medical applications of the therapy are quite broad, he says. “People who might benefit from stem cell therapies include those with spinal cord injuries, type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, stroke, burns, cancer and osteoarthritis.” 

Dr. Brett H. Baird, owner of Baird Chiropractic and Med Spa, also in Navarre, says the spa’s medical director, Barbara Wade, M.D., uses umbilical cord SCT to treat many conditions. “We’ve had a female stroke patient in her 60s and a male with a thyroid condition in his 60s, and both are having great results,” he says. 

How Treatment Works

When SCT is used as a regenerative treatment, the stem cells are often directly introduced to the degenerated area, such as a joint, with a single injection. But stem cells can also be infused intravenously, ideally over the course of two or three treatments, Baird says. 

Either way, one treatment generally takes less than 30 minutes, he says. The only known side effect is a rash at the site of injection or infusion.

Because SCT is minimally invasive, it can be a viable alternative to surgery, especially for orthopedic-type injuries, Schopmeyer says. “There’s no downtime and no rehabilitation. And because the stem cells come from live healthy-birth umbilical cords, they do not require harvesting from the patient wanting to get the procedure.”

Baird estimates that patients will feel the maximum effects in 10 to 12 weeks. How long those effects last depends on the type and severity of the condition treated, he says.

“The stem cells replicate every 29 hours for 90 days, so that’s when the majority of tissue repair happens,” Schopmeyer explains. “Then the results are only subject to your natural aging.” 

Baird Chiropractic and Medical Spa is located at 1796 Navarre Sound Cr., Navarre, FL. To contact the office, call 850-936-8664. Ageless Solutions is located at 8990 Ortega Park Dr., Navarre, FL. To contact the office, call 850-529-0770. For more information, visit SuperiorHealthNavarre.com or AgelessNavarre.com

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