Autologous Stem Cells
What are Stem Cells?
Autologous stem cells are stem cells derived from and transplanted in the same individual. The body uses autologous stem cells to replace cells that are injured or worn out. Stem cells have the ability to become many different cells depending on the body’s need. When stem cells are put into a joint they become joint cells. When the same stem cells are put into a heart they become heart cells.
We use stem cells taken from the belly fat depot harvested (collected) by liposuction because that is the largest reservoir of stem cells. These stem cells are easy to obtain and relatively painless to harvest from that location compared to other sources such as bone marrow.
The bone marrow makes millions of platelets every day and while we commonly think of platelets only in terms of their role in stopping the bleeding they do a multitude of other things. Sure, they are the key to forming clots and stopping a hemorrhage but within each one Mother Nature has chocked them full of a real cornucopia of growth factors. These growth factors stimulate the stem cells to divide, grow and change into cartilage cells needed to resurface the damaged joint surface.
What is the big deal about stem cells?
Stem cells are our body’s repair team. They fix worn out or damaged cells and replace them with healthy vigorous ones. This happens all over the body all the time. Embryonic stem cells are taken from human embryos and are pleuri-potential meaning they can change into any human tissue type. All the concern surrounding stem cells is about these cells because removing them from an embryo is a terminal event for that living organism.
Adult stem cells live in your own bone marrow or fat and are multi-potential meaning they can change into a limited but related set of human tissue types. Nobody cares if you want to use your own cells to help yourself and of course this is a completely harmless thing to do.
With respect to osteoarthritis of the knee, the stem cell of interest is called the mesenchymal stem cell. It possesses the ability to become cartilage, muscle, bone, blood vessels and fat tissues. The final disposition of the stem cell depends upon various influencing factors of the microenvironment the cell finds itself in at the time change is called for. Both the adult stem cell harvested from your body fat and amniotic stem cells is mesenchymal stem cells.