Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF), a suspension consisting of a wide variety of beneficial stem cell types, which can be easily obtained from a patient’s own adipose tissue. Utilizing a simple and minimally-invasive outpatient procedure, a small amount of a patient’s unused fat tissue is removed and transformed into a ready source of regenerative cells. These cells, surrounded by equally-beneficial cytokines and growth factors, are collectively-known as SVF. This readily available, easily procured “tissue soup” has enormous potential for the future of regenerative medicine, and new research is showing its efficacy at facing down a major degenerative condition.
Osteoarthritis – Breakdown of the Connective Tissue Supporting Joints
Common factors such as aging, lifestyle requirements and sports activities can lead to progressive degenerative changes in the body, especially joints, over time. Many of these changes, symptoms, and consequences are unavoidable, and many are completely treatable. For generations, the slow and steady degeneration of major body joints and their surrounding tissues has been regarded as an unfortunate outcome synonymous with the progression of time. Osteoarthritis is the most common and most severe forms of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. Common symptoms range from mild joint pain in the limbs to severe inflammation throughout the joints of the body, including the back, shoulders, knees, hips, hands, and feet. Breakdown of the connective tissue supporting joints and a progressive loss of function are typical. Sufferers may grow progressively more limited in their ability to do simple life tasks due to their condition, and progressively get more limited in their treatment options.
The first line of defense is preventative care, consisting of weight management, exercise, and rest; and guarding against accidents and trauma- e.g. by wearing protective gear, shoes etc. Especially in weight-bearing joints, the daily tolls the joints are subjected to can be mitigated by reducing the weight it supports and avoiding positions of stress- e.g. squatting. A manageable level of low-impact exercise, such as walking, biking, or swimming can keep the joints flexible as well as the ligaments and tendons strong. Likewise, joints need to recuperate from the daily load, so rest is also important. For patients who already have begun seeing symptoms of degenerative joint disease (DJD), there are commonly accepted treatment options such as analgesic drugs, physical therapy, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and support. These methods can alleviate symptoms early in the course of the disease, but cannot halt the progression of the condition over time. Patients still experience symptoms, which will continue to worsen as the disease progresses. These modalities of treatment merely provide temporary relief from pain but do nothing to address further cartilage and joint damage and subsequent joint failure. Another popular mode of treatment is medication with pain management drugs, which can, also temporarily, treat symptoms, but long-term use can lead to complications, including damage or ulceration of the upper gastrointestinal tract; and damage to the liver and kidneys; not to mention the risk of dependence and abuse. Neither of these treatment modalities addresses the regeneration of connective tissue such as cartilage, as no treatment can accomplish the regeneration of tissue other than regenerative cells and growth factors and cytokines.
In the Field of Regenerative Medicine
However, with some current research in the field of regenerative medicine focused on the efficacy of stem cells and SVF in the treatment of a variety of diseases, it would make sense to employ the regenerative qualities of SVF in degenerate joint disease. In a study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine, a total of ten patients experiencing Osteoarthritis symptoms in their knees underwent an outpatient procedure to remove fat tissue from the abdominal wall. SVF was isolated from the tissue and deployed together with platelet rich plasma (PRP) isolated from the patient’s own peripheral blood since adult stem cells would fare better with additional growth factors to maintain their state of nutrition and regenerative qualities. These growth factors are found in plentiful supply in PRP and are already present in a patient’s blood. This PRP, injected into the joint with the SVF, contributes to better functionality of the stem cells, gives them a scaffolding and assists in their regenerative properties. In this study, the therapeutic cocktail of the patient’s own regenerative cells was placed into the affected knee or knees. The scales utilized to quantify progress were the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) and a six-minute walk distance task. These scales not only evaluated clinical effects but also measured each patient’s subjective level of pain and mobility.
Overall, all of the patients reported a marked improvement in pain management and mobility over time. The results were reassessed at the 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24-month marks, with XRAY and MRI tests performed at the 1-year mark. The baseline WOMAC scores were reduced at each reassessment, and patients showed a statistically significant improvement in walking distance over time. Sixty percent of the patients’ imaging tests showed a significant improvement in cartilage thickness, and twenty percent showed no detectable change in cartilage thickness even at two years. These results show evidence that SVF injected into the Osteoarthritis site can halt the degenerative effects and in many cases, re-grow the connective tissues themselves. The outpatient procedure to collect the cells is safe and minimally-invasive, the PRP process is the same one utilized at thousands of plasma collection centers across the United States, and the injection of the SVF/PRP solution is no more painful than an annual flu shot. This compared to a painful and dangerous joint replacement surgery that used to be the necessary outcome for Osteoarthritis sufferers, with its potential immediate and long-term risk, which includes general anesthesia, hemorrhage, infection, mal-positioning, loosening of prosthesis and rejection, etc.
Most significant to further research is the fact that the procedure clearly demonstrated efficacy without instances of any significant adverse effects or complications, which proves consistent with previous research. Current treatments for Osteoarthritis are limited and advanced stages of the disease still rely on total joint replacement. Unlike the aforementioned surgery, which carried a multitude of risks and complications as outlined above, SVF procedures are safe and effective. Although surgery requires medical clearance and is oftentimes not suitable for people of advanced age or with certain preexisting conditions (namely the majority of severe arthritis sufferers), Stromal Vascular Fraction injection requires only local anesthesia and can be performed in the course of a morning.
Gulf Coast Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Center
At the Gulf Coast Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center, we are actively engaged in research programs, managing a wide range of varied disorders, including orthopedic, degenerative, neurological and autoimmune. Our talented team of professionals will personalize your treatment. As proud members of the Cell Surgical Network (CSN), you can be assured that we provide top-of-the-line care while helping our patients increase mobility and functionality. We help provide solutions for everything inflammatory, autoimmune or degenerative, ranging from Alopecia to Scleroderma, provide stroke recovery options, relief from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Parkinson’s, and Neuropathy, in addition to a host of degenerative joint complaints. We are part of a giant research project, through the CSN that first addressed the safety, and moving on to show the benefit, efficacy, and predictability of stem cell deployment and outcomes in various disease entities. Our safety record has been published in a peer-review journal, which shows an excellent safety record to the procedure. Contact Gulf Coast Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center and let us show you what “Excellence with a Human Touch” means.
Gulf Coast Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Center is located in Ocean Springs, MS along the Gulf Coast, surrounded by the states Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida. We offer our services to patients throughout the United States and the world.
For more information about the diseases and disorders that we currently address and study, please call (866) 885-4823.
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View the full research article here.