1. WHAT is Regenerative Medicine?
It’s the field of Medicine which deals with treatments that when applied to damaged body tissues, such as tendons or joints, help them to heal by stimulating natural repair.
The regeneration of healthy tissue occurs through natural processes stimulated by these treatments.
Regenerative Medicine embraces various treatments such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC), Prolotherapy and the use of semi-synthetic drugs such as Pentosan.
2. How NEW are these treatments?
Some of these treatments have been used since the early 1930’s . This is the case of Prolotherapy.
PRP first saw the light in the late 80’s in Dentistry. Since then it has evolved exponentially expanding to other fields of Medicine. There are 3 major types of PRP therapies:
Leukocyte Rich PRP (LR-PRP)
Leukocyte Rich Plasma (LRP)
MSC therapy involves tissue engineering where pluripotential cells harvested from the bone marrow, fat tissue or blood are manipulated and then injected into damaged tissues such the heart muscle, where healing will take place and repair may happen.
Through Tissue Engineering Gene therapies have emerged as a promising but experimental treatment to help damaged tissues to repair more quickly.
3. Which CONDITIONS can be treated?
In damaged joints (osteoarthritis) and tendons (tendinopathies) PRP and Prolotherapy have shown to help patients with pain and stiffness. Also certain degree of repair has been proof through imaging (MRI and Ultrasonography). In other conditions such as fibromyalgia, plantar fascitis, knee sprains, back and neck pain and muscle injury PRP have proven promising results.
Mesenchymal Stem Cell therapy is currently being used to repair damaged organs such as the heart (Congestive Heart Failure), spinal discs (chronic lower back pain), diabetic nephropathy and Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc.
4. WHERE can I find these treatments?
Some of these treatments are widely available such as Prolotherapy or PRP. Many Sports Medicine clinics and GPs worldwide are offering them. The price for a Prolotherapy treatment varies from AUD $100 to $250. PRP therapy is slightly dearer ranging from $350 to $1000 depending on the area and condition to treat.
However MSC therapy is currently used only in clinical trials in humans mainly in America, Europe and Japan.
5. WHERE to from here?
Regenerative Medicine is 21st century medicine. Even though it first appeared in 20th century its full potential to heal and even cure certain health conditions will reveal through the next decades as it is blooming worldwide.
Still traditional therapy where a drug is given to reduce symptoms such as a painkiller to treat pain will continue. However as Regenerative Medicine therapies become more available and new treatments appear, it will eventually become mainstream medicine.