RegenMed conducts therapies using mesenchymal stem cells (WJ MSC) as part of the Advanced Therapy Medicinal Product since 2015. Since the beginning of our activity, we have performed several hundred procedures on more than 150 patients.
Treatment of patients with neurological diseases is a huge challenge for today's medicine. The main problem in the treatment of neurological disorders is the lack of causal treatment, so the only solution is to treat the symptoms that occur in a particular disease unit. Because many neurological diseases take on a chronically progressive form, another goal of therapy is to stop their progressive course. In this case, merely stopping the progression of the disease proves to be the goal of treatment. Stem cells have been the focus of interest in the medical field for many years among those seeking to find new and effective treatments for neurological diseases. The use of parental mesenchymal cells is an important example for fulfilling the hopes which both patients and physicians put in stem cells.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can provide an excellent alternative to the treatment of neurological disorders in which treatment options have already been exhausted using standard therapeutic methods. The main advantage of MSC is their ability to multiply, differentiate into different cell types, and their ability to secrete biologically active substances that stimulate renewal and regeneration of damaged tissues. At the same time, MSC cells do not show immunogenicity, which means they are not treated by the organism as a transplant and are therefore not rejected. Their extraordinary and important advantage is also their ability to locate the situs of damage in the human body, for instance cells administered to the cerebrospinal fluid autonomously find the situs of the lesion and without additional intervention initiate the process of the regeneration of damaged tissues.
Cellular repair therapy using MSC has become a subject of intense research in recent years in terms of their effectiveness in regeneration of nerve tissue damage.
At Regenmed Hospital, MSC cells are used in therapies applied to the following conditions:
This group includes diseases of different aetiology, the common feature of which is damage to the central (brain, spinal cord) and peripheral structures (nerves, muscles) of the nervous system, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, SLA), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), ataxia etc.
Although the origin of the above diseases may be very different, from genetic, acquired, immunological or not determined, the common feature remains the ability to treat them with the use of stem cells. As a result of therapy with MSC cells, it is possible to achieve tangible therapeutic benefits in the form of inhibiting or slowing the progression of the disease. Patients gain strength and fitness in the muscles affected by the disease (improved swallowing, speech, respiratory function), increase excercise tolerance, decrease pain and improve coordination and balance.
Encephalopathy and epilepsy
Treatment of encephalopathy - that is, damage to the brain of different backgrounds resulting in permanent cognitive and motor deficits - is based on the same principle of MSC cells involved in the reconstruction of CNS structures. In this case, MSC cells restore normal brain function, improve brain plasticity, stimulate undamaged centers to take over the functions of disease-altered regions, and create new neuronal connections. Among the treated encephalopathies are congenital - hypoxic ischaemic injuries, perinatal and fetal infections (including CP - Cerebral Palsy and related syndromes) or acquired – post-inflammatory, post stroke, posttraumatic, post-vaccinal, immunological and autoimmune responses.
Special improvement has been observed In the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy due to encephalopathy. The results of this treatment are the decrease or complete reduction of seizures. MSC cells used to treat epilepsy affect neurotransmitters and reduce the inflammation generated by epileptic seizures. In this case, they have therapeutic features instead of temporarily reducing the number of seizures.
As a result of the treatment we can expect a significant improvement of the cognitive functions of the patient in terms of understanding and responding to commands, improving speech, memory, attention, Intellectual fitness as well as motor improvement, muscle tone reduction in spasticity and improvement of muscle strength in the case of paresis. Patients undergoing MSC therapy function better in social life, and significant improvement is observed during rehabilitation.
Spinal cord injury
The injury of the spinal cord results in irreversible loss of nerve connections, resulting in severe disability and paresis or paralysis. The severity of the ailment depends on the level of damage. Spinal cord injury mainly affects young people, 82% of whom are young men. New experimental treatments for spinal cord injuries based on the use of MSC cells exploit their unique regenerative properties. Stem cells secrete specific substances including growth factors and factors that inhibit the connective tissue protein accretion, thereby slowing or inhibiting the scarring process. In addition, they secrete factors protecting the nerve tissue from further degeneration due to the anti-inflammatory features of the cells. One of the primary tasks of MSC cells in spinal cord injuries is the creation of new neural connections due to their ability to differentiate into neurons and astrocytes. Previous clinical trials in traumas and other spinal cord injuries have confirmed the complete safety and efficacy of the method in both acute and subacute degenerative processes. Most of the clinical trials have demonstrated improved corticospinal conduction performance, which means that as a result of the treatment patients can expect to experience improved muscle tone, improved motor function, reduction or withdrawal of paralysis, and improvement of muscle strength in the event of paralysis. These changes contribute to improving the performance of affected limbs and increasing the strength and stability of the axial muscles, such as the trunk and pelvic girdle. Another benefit of therapy is the improvement of the exteroceptive and prioproceptive sensation and the reduction of pain, as well as the subsidence of unpleasant feelings associated with sensory disorders such as paraesthesia and dysaesthesia. Most patients manage to recover or improve the function of the sphincter, which allows the patients to become much more independent in everyday life. Cellular therapy also has a positive effect on the blood supply to the skin and subcutaneous tissue, which facilitates the treatment of bedsores and prevents the formation of new ones.
Stroke is a type of brain tissue damage that results from a circulatory disorder within the nervous system that can occur as a result of cerebral haemorrhage (eg haemorrhage of a ruptured aneurysm) or ischemia, also called a cerebral infarction. Depending on the region of the brain affected by vascular damage, a variety of symptoms can develop. These include, among others, aphasia and related speech disorders, paresis or paralysis of the body, sensory disturbance on one side, disturbance of consciousness, contact with the environment, and disturbance of memory or behavior. Because the deficits caused by the stroke are permanent and the cerebral area affected by the disease is necrotic, regenerative medicine remains the only alternative for post-stroke rehabilitation.
In recent years, scientists have begun clinical studies on the treatment of stroke with the use of stem cells. MSC cells, differentiating into neurons and astrocytes, can successfully replace cells lost in the necrotic process. The therapeutic effect of MSC is also due to their ability to secrete various biologically active substances which stimulate cells adjacent to the situs of brain tissue damage, protecting against scar formation and inflammation.
As a result of the treatment, it is possible to minimize the effects of necrosis, and consequently to reduce cognitive deficits (speech, behavioral, memory) and motor disorders (reduction or withdrawal of paresis, improvement of muscle tone). In addition, it is possible to improve the coordination of movement, balance and dexterity.
Diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system are the main causes of disability. It is estimated that approximately 5 to 7% of Polish citizens suffer from joint ailments. Standard orthopaedic treatment includes surgical procedures, pharmacotherapy (steroid treatment, antiinflammatory treatment, pain therapy) and physiotherapy. Many of the medicines used (including, among others, nSAIDs, i.e. non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) only have symptomatic effect of temporarily relieving the pain and inflammation, yet they do not cause regeneration of the damaged cartilage or bone. Despite the dynamic development of new surgical techniques, the effectiveness of surgical treatment remains unsatisfactory. Numerous scientific publications and results of clinical trials presented during international conferences reflect the fast progress of regenerative medicine based on the use of stem cells for orthopaedic purposes. All clinical trials confirm that the use of MSCs in orthopaedic patients is safe and leads to a significant clinical improvement in most patients. What makes MSCs so important is the exceptional properties of mesenchymal stem cells obtained from the umbilical cord (Wharton’s Jelly). Firstly, WJ-MSCs are immune-privileged, which makes them well tolerated by the recipient’s immune system. Additionally, they transform into mature chondrocytes and osteoblasts, whilst producing a variety of biologically active agents with regenerative effect.
At Regenmed Hospital, MSC cells are used in therapies applied to the following conditions:
Degenerative changes in the knee and hip joint cartilage
Standard treatments of articular cartilage defects do not produce satisfactory clinical effects. Knee and hip joint cartilage gets damaged as a result of injuries, inflammations or chronic strain, wear and tear, either age-related or due to physical activity. Cartilage is not vascularised, which prevents its correct healing and regeneration. Its damage leads to the development of a degenerative joint disease (arthritis). The medicines used alleviate the symptoms suffered by patients while at the same time relieving pain and inflammation, but they do not cause regeneration of the damaged cartilage. Surgical procedures performed in cartilage damage include, among others, microfractures, autogenous cartilage transplantations, lab-multiplied chondrocyte transplantations and reconstruction with the use of dedicated matrices. All of these are invasive procedures, burdened with complications, and often produce unsatisfactory results. Today, conservative treatment of cartilage damage also includes injections of hyaluronic acids, rich-platelet plasma with growth factors and dynamically developing preparations similar to stem cells, obtained from the centrifuged bone marrow or adipose tissue. Although the effectiveness of these preparations in pain relieving and increasing joint mobility has been proved, it has also been shown that they do not cause cartilage reconstruction. WJ-MSCs may prove more effective and capable of improving the structure of the cartilage. Despite the extensive efforts of doctors and physical therapists, a large group of patients treated with joint injections or surgical methods is eventually subjected to the procedure of replacement of the affected joint. Joint injections of stem cells appear to be the only alternative to the replacement surgery. The injections should increase joint mobility, improve the quality of the patient’s life and postpone the surgery. Stem cell therapy is much less burdening to the patient and gives a fast therapeutic effect, noticeable already after 3 to 4 days.
In normal conditions of the functioning of the human body, a fracture heals relatively quickly, without leaving any significant deficits. Nevertheless, it may happen, for several reasons, that it will not heal within 6 months; such a permanent failure of healing of a broken bone is called nonunion. Nonunion can be caused, among others, by insufficient stabilisation (immobilisation) of the fracture, insufficient blood supply to the broken bone, systemic diseases or bone infections. Nonunion treatment mainly involves complex surgeries, which burden the patients with complications, require months-long physiotherapy, and often prove ineffective. Patients who have undergone all currently available preventive and surgical therapies without obtaining the union of bones are qualified for the above treatment. The effectiveness of MSCs in nonunion results from their high immunotolerance and the ability to transform into mature chondrocytes and osteocytes, whilst excreting a variety of biologically active agents with regenerative effect on the osseous tissue. MSCs do not show neoplastic features, meaning that they are unable to transform into cancerous cells. The expected therapeutic effect, in the form of a union, is visible already after 9-12 weeks.