In the new and rapidly advancing field of regenerative medicine, many promising treatments are emerging. As this field is very cutting edge, it can be difficult at times to differentiate between some of those therapies. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapy are two very promising therapies that are being used more frequently and gaining more widespread acceptance recently. Given this, it is very important to understand what each is and what their respective roles are in the regenerative process.
PRP is obtained by taking the patient’s own blood and spinning it down to concentrate the platelet portion of their blood while discarding the rest. Platelets play a vital role in the healing process. This concentrate is then injected into areas of acute injury, and the various factors they secrete aid in the healing process.
Umbilical cord stem cells used for stem cell therapy are obtained via donation from healthy, live birth umbilical cords. They are likewise injected into areas of generally subacute to chronic degeneration and injury. Once injected, they are thought to locally engraft into damaged tissue and begin aiding the process of repair and regeneration. They are known to secrete their own growth factors and support the patient’s own mesenchymal stem cells (MSC’s) to aid in tissue repair. They are also immunomodulatory, meaning they seek out areas that are inflamed and inform the body’s immune system in such a way that the inflammatory response is suppressed and aids in the repair of tissue rather than being detrimental or causing symptoms such as pain. In essence, MSC’s tell the immune system exactly what needs to be done and where.
Both PRP and MSC’s show great promise and are likely going to be used for years to come, however they are distinct therapies and should be used appropriately as such. An apt analogy would be an automobile repair shop. PRP might be like bringing in extra tools to the mechanic so that he has everything he needs to get the job done. MSC’s would be like bringing in 3 more mechanics with their tools to help the process.
Patients and their situations are all unique, so we want offer the most appropriate treatment for their individual situations. Come see us and find out what might be best for you!