What is regenerative medicine?
Regenerative medicine recognises the amazing body’s ability of our body to heal its injuries. At a certain level, it does this without any intervention. We can heal fractured bones, small sprains and strains, skin ulcers, lacerations and so on. However, we can also use our body’s tissues to heal more powerfully and in particular tissues that don’t heal so easily, such as cartilage, tendon or ligament tears.
The simplest type of regenerative medicine is prolotherapy, whereby the injection of dextrose stimulates the production of collagen via the production of growth factors.
The injection of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) exploits the fact that platelets are loaded with granules full of growth factors ready to act. This can be used to help regenerate moderate osteoarthritis, meniscal tears and partial tendon and ligament tears.
Stem cells are defined as ‘unique cells present in the body that have the potential to differentiate into various cell types or divide indefinitely to produce other stem cells.’ When these cells are transplanted to a certain tissue, the stem cells ‘know’ to differentiate and replicate to the type of cells they are surrounded by whether cartilage, bone, muscle and tendon (fibroblasts). Haematologists use stem cells to replicate in a situation when blood types are dangerously reduced in number due to various diseases. In our clinic, we extract stem cells from the patient’s fat, usually from the abdominal wall. Stem cells from this fat are injected into the damaged region.
More information can be found in the following chapters.