The entire field of orthopedics is looking for new regenerative technology that can save more patients more safely. Currently there are two contenders: Platelet-Rich Plasma and Stem Cell.
While PRP is the safest of the two, it’s really hard to dismiss the remarkable capabilities of stem cell therapy. In fact, I believe it’s the future of regenerative medicine. But not at the level it’s playing right now. Which is a totally different discussion we’ll save for another day.
The thing is… there are potential harm with stem cells. And unlike PRP, stem cell’s constituents are man-made, so things can go wrong. We’ll discuss the potential dark side of this therapy later in this article. However, I feel it’s important to highlight how good a treatment stem cell therapy is.
Quick Overview: Stem Cell Vs Platelet-Rich Plasma
Platelet-Rich Plasma is like water and nutrients that help restore (and sometimes accelerate) your body’s EXISTING healing mechanism. If your body is stuck with its healing, PRP can help. It releases growth factors and cytokines to kick start the healing. Stem cells on the other hand is not used to enhance healing, but to create new solutions to healing challenges. So it’s more for tissues that are totally lost.
Stem Cell Vs Platelet-Rich Plasma
With me? Before we proceed, let’s look at a little background of stem cells. We’ll stick to orthopedics for the sake of simplicity.
Orthopedic Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells are naturally found in the human body and they are a fundamental part of the body’s normal healing process. Stem cells are known as ‘raw potential’ as they can be converted into any cell that the body needs. The body utilizes stem cells to substitute damaged and/or injured cells. This process allows natural healing and repair of the injured or damaged cells.
As the body gets older the amount of natural reserved stem cells starts to decline, which explains why the healing process is slower as the body gets older. Stem cell therapy resolves this shortage by injecting supplementary stem cells into the injured/damaged area of the body, which triggers the cell replacement, natural healing, and pain relief.
Stem cell therapy is a simple and quick procedure, taking about 15 minutes. Pain discomfort is often felt immediately, with the majority people reporting a significant improvement within one to two days.
With stem cell therapy the patient does not have to have any type of surgical procedure, local or general or downtime. Most of the patients experience a complete restoration of the damaged/ injured ligaments, tendons, and cartilage within about in 28 days. Stem cell therapy has been proven to be complexly safe, with no side effects reported in the US or in Europe.
The Difference Between Stem Cell Therapy and Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy
Often times, stem cell therapy and PRP can be confused because they have a lot in common during the healing process. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two, is PRP is removed from the patient’s own body, it goes through a scientific process and is them injected into the area being treated.
The cells used for stem cell therapy can come from a few different places; from an unviable embryo, and unviable fetal stem cells these stem cells are the most often used because the cells are unspecialized and can be made into specialized cells. As it sounds, preparing stem cells for therapy is a complex process. Stem cells are produced in a sophisticated labs by cell biologists and are typically grown over several weeks before it’s ready.
Plus, adult stem cells may be used, although it is not nearly as common yet because scientists are still working on ways to identify stem cells within the tissue of an adult human body.
Stem Cell Vs Platelet-Rich Plasma
So what’s the dark side of Stem Cell Therapy?
The obvious concern is that treatments with stem cells could be dangerous if not carefully controlled. I know we are all doing things for saving lives and helping people live longer, more happily, but the risks must also be considered.
Below are the 5 risks that stem cells carry. (which Platelet-Rich Plasma doesn’t.)
Risk of viruses: Since the stem cells are foreign bodies, if they happen to carry harmful microscopic agents, it’ll bring unnecessary complications. Especially those patients whose immune systems are weak, could be highly vulnerable diseases.
Uncontrolled growth: As I said before, stem cells are produced in a lab and grown over a period of several weeks. However, there is very tiny possibility the growth will continue uncontrolled after installing it into the patient. We pray it doesn’t happen.
Multi-tasking of cells: Stem cells are cultivated and grown into specialized cells that are designed to be doing just one thing and one thing only. But what if, in the long run, they also do other things that wasn’t in the original scope of things? Something to ponder.
That said, I still believe stem cells hold great promise. Now, I want to take this rest of the article to highlight a few of the common conditions that are found to be best for stem cell treatments.
Stem Cell Vs Platelet-Rich Plasma
Rheumatoid Arthritis is caused by inflammation of the joints as a result of an autoimmune progression. The body’s immune system attacks the joints. Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis suffer from mild to severe pain, constant fatigue, warm, and swollen joints. This type of chronic inflammation has the potential to easily damage the joints. Therefore, treatment is concentrated on decreasing the inflammation and slowing down the progress of the condition. Stem cell therapy provides a treatment alternative that takes advantage of the healing and anti-inflammatory effects.
Osteoarthritis is joint inflammation caused by the deterioration of the cartilage that cause the bones to rub up against one another. Patients who suffer from osteoarthritis have pain, stiffness, and a decrease in their range of motion in their joints. Although, there is no cure for osteoarthritis, stem cell treatment focuses on reducing the pain reduction through medication, physical therapy, or occupational therapy. Stem cell therapy provides a treatment alternative that takes advantage of the healing and anti-inflammatory effects. While medication helps with the pain.
Shoulder injuries such as rotator cuff tears and arthritis of the shoulder joint, as well as other types shoulder pain may be responsive to stem cell therapy. Stem cells goal is to renew damaged joints.
Stem Cell Treatment for Joint Repair
Hand and elbow problems caused by arthritis of the joints is a type of deteriorating joint disease that has disabled millions of people. Definite types of wrist and elbow joint issues including certain ligamentous injuries and tendon problems may not benefit from cell therapy. It is very important that the doctor evaluate each patient to see if stem cell therapy is a viable treatment for their patients.
Stem Cell Treatment for Knee
Knee arthritis is a type of deteriorating joint disease, which affects millions of people. Most people believe there only option for pain relief and better mobility is steroid injections or surgery, including total knee replacement surgery. However, that is not the case, many people benefit greatly from stem cell therapy. Specific types of knee issues such as, ligamentous injuries and substantial meniscal injuries may not be responsive to regenerative therapy (stem cell therapy). Each case must be carefully evaluated and the orthopedist will decide what options are best for the patient, in some cases, stem cell therapy is tried even if the patient is not exactly an ideal candidate, but trying is better than just scheduling surgery.
Stem Cell Treatment for Hip
Hip arthritis is similar to knee arthritis; millions of people suffer from hip problems. Patients usually try to delay the hip replacement surgery as long as they can and try other methods such as steroid injections, which for some people do help for a short period of time. However, long tern injects can damage the tissue near the hip. While fractured hips and certain kinds of hip injuries cannot be treated with stem cell therapy, surgery is the only available option left.
Stem Cell Treatment for Joint Repair
Problems with the hands and elbow joints usually respond well to stem cell therapy. If there are problems with the ligaments and tendons, then surgery may be necessary.
Degenerative joint diseases disable millions of people. While certain types of injuries are not a good match for stem cell therapy, there are several that are a good match. Before you prescribe surgery to repair damaged or injured joints consider about stem cell therapy, and if possible give it a try first.
Fact: According to research, PRP treatments are one of the most in-demand treatments available in healthcare.
This is impressive considering the following.
PRP is not supported by the medical industry. No big pharma funding on extensive research or marketing. No medical associations lobbying to increase its awareness.
PRP is shunned by the insurance companies. No reimbursements from them. So getting patients to pay is difficult. Especially for a treatment that’s relatively “unproven” like this.
The cost of PRP treatments are actually rising. In 2006, you can get a PRP treatment for $450. Today it costs $800. The cheapest we’ve seen is $650. The prices are still robust as demand keeps up.
However, we believe the best of PRP is not even here yet. We’re just one breakthrough study away from exploding into mainstream hospitals and clinics. We see the biggest growth in Platelet-Rich Plasma happening in Asia.
Strongly based on fundamental healing theory
The growth can be attributed to PRP’s fundamental healing property. More platelets. More growth factors and cytokines. And therefore more healing. It’s as simple as that. And no one can argue this fact.
Our body’s natural healing mechanism operates with 150,000/ul-350,000/ul platelets in blood. Using Platelet-Rich Plasma means this number is amplified by 3X to 5X. How can this be not translated into better healing?
Believe it or not, the best orthopedic doctors use Platelet-Rich Plasma. And do so regularly.
PLATELET-RICH PLASMA TRENDS
PRP can be used to promote healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints, can be applied to various musculoskeletal problems. And they conduct regular studies to test it’s effectiveness.
One landmark study involved double-blind randomized controlled trials to see the effect of PRP on patients with chronic low back pain caused by torn discs. The study outcome says 60% of the patients felt significant improvements.
Some were cured. CURED!
Platelet-Rich Plasma Variants
So far, there are the following type of PRP variants.
Plasma Rich in Growth Factors (PRGF)
Plasma Rich in Platelets and Growth Factors (PRPGF)
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP); Platelet Poor Plasma (PPP)
Plasma Rich in Platelets and Rich in Leukocytes (LR-PRP)
Plasma Rich in Platelets and Poor in Leukocytes (LP-PRP)
Platelet-Rich Fibrin Matrix (PRFM)
All of them involve Plasmapherisis — the two stage centrifugation process to separate platelets from blood. However, what happen what happens after that can be different. And the industry hasn’t found it’s middle ground as to which variant to be standardized. We believe the confusion will clear up in 3-5 years.
PLATELET-RICH PLASMA TRENDS
No matter which variant you end up using, the bio-factors at play are the following:
Growth factors: TGF-B, PDGF, IGF-I,II, FGF, EGF, VEGF, ECGF
Adhesive proteins: Fibrinogen, Fibronectin, Vitronectin, Thrombospondin-1
Clotting & Anti-Clotting factors: Proteins, Antithrombin, Plasminogen, Proteases, Antiproteases
How Platelet-Rich Plasma Actually Work
Why is the treatment commonly used for wound healing and pain management? The answer is because the platelets’ main job is to aid coagulation, act as a biological glue and support stem or primary cell migration. In addition, it also helps in restoring hyaluronic acid and accelerates the synthesis of collagen and glycosaminoglycans and increases cartilage matrix.
Not only that, the platelets are delivered in a clot which means it can immediately act as a scaffold to enable the healing process. 95% of the bio-active proteins are released within 1 hour of injecting Platelet-Rich Plasma. The platelets continue to release growth factors for 7-10 days. Thus it’s recommended to re-inject PRP every 7 days.
PLATELET-RICH PLASMA TRENDS
Why are patients coughing up their hard earned money for this?
This reminds me of hundreds of thousands of PRP treatments paid from patient’s own pocket even though they’ve been paying for years to get covered by their respective insurance provider. In 2015, PRP costs were anywhere between $600 and $800 per site per treatment. And most patients go for repeated treatments. So why were they forking up their hard earned money if the treatment was not working? Weren’t there any better alternatives under the “coverage” of their insurance provider? The answer is 1) the treatment works. 2) there’s nothing else out there that’s as natural and side-effect-free as PRP.
Consider the case of osteoarthritis. 27 millions Americans are impacted by it. 33.6% of people older than 65 are victims. All of them experience gradual degeneration of cartilage and bones — they lose roughly 5% cartilage per year. Yet, our medical industry doesn’t have a fix to stop it.
However, when doctors started doing PRP treatments for their osteoarthritis patients, they found a large majority of them had no further cartilage loss.
To me, it means we should make PRP treatments the default first-line treatment for osteoarthritis across the country.
Another huge market is hair loss and cosmetic facial applications. I know there are many people who believe PRP doesn’t work for hair. Here’s what one of the Platelet-Rich Plasma studies found were the effect of the treatment on hair loss.
“Hair loss reduced and at 3 months it reached normal levels. Hair density reached a peak at 3 months (170.70 ± 37.81, P < 0.001). At 6 months and at 1 year, it was significantly increased, 156.25 ± 37.75 (P < 0.001) and 153.70 ± 39.92 (P < 0.001) respectively, comparing to baseline. Patients were satisfied with a mean result rating of 7.1 on a scale of 1-10. No remarkable adverse effects were noted.”
I’ll take that.
That’s me getting PRP for hair. ??
PLATELET-RICH PLASMA TRENDS
PRP market is expected to hit $126 million in 2016
That number looks paltry. But that’s an 180% increase over the 2009 figure of $45 million.
Consider this. Just for osteoarthritis alone, if all the 27 million Americans receive 1 PRP shot a year at a conservative $400 per treatment, it would be a market of $10 billion. And that’s one condition out of the many that Platelet-Rich Plasma injections are proven to work.
Another condition that PRP is known to work very well is Tennis Elbow. It affects on average 1% to 3% of the overall population. That number is as high as 50% among tennis players.
Do the math.
Just getting Platelet-Rich Plasma covered by insurance will unleash the market big time and will help heal millions of patients naturally, more effectively.
Oh ya, that means the insurance companies will have to pay more. Why would they?
HOWEVER, if this treatment could reduce further expensive intervention like surgery then it may actually be a blessing for the insurance guys in terms of savings. One surgery avoided by a patient through right intervention through PRP treatments will save the insurance companies at least $25,000. Now, that’s a win-win for both patients and insurance.
I believe it’s a matter of time before insurance companies start realizing their folly of not supporting this treatment.
PLATELET-RICH PLASMA TRENDS
After all is said and done, it’s still “unproven”
The problem with PRP is that it can be used for just about everything, which is a good problem to have until health care officials (and insurance companies) start realizing that people are going to misuse it.
So it’s classified as unproven. The VAST scope of the treatment calls for urgent structure and guidelines. There are some 20+ conditions where researchers have found it “helps” in one way or another. It’s a daunting task to prove its efficiency in all the areas. Nevertheless, we’ll get there.
Though we’ll need a lot of funding for that.
And yes, we need to standardize the procedure. As well as come up with optimized protocols for each conditions. Someone need to take initiative on that. We’re counting on independent doctors and medical institutions. The big pharma won’t jump in because what’s in it for them, right?
It’s so simple, you’d be an idiot to not try it.
You only need a vacuum blood harvesting tube like what we offer here, a centrifuge with adapter for the tube, pipettes and 10ml ampules of 10% calcium chloride.
The only complexity comes from not following a standard PRP system. Because the final platelet count can depend on a variety of factors. Like initial volume of blood, the technique used and relative concentration of WBC and/or RBC. As well as on the patient’s side, there are factors such as age, growth factor and WBC content.
However, concentration-wise, there’s little confusion as once a sufficiently high range is reached, more doesn’t have any adverse or enhancing effect — it saturates at a certain point. So that’s the minimum. Once you reach that, you’re good. Although the outcome is not always guaranteed to be same, with the right number of platelets, platelet activation and cytokine release, you can get a consistency in your PRP offerings.
There’s still some uncertainty over the number of injections, the timing and delivery method of Platelet-Rich Plasma. But with wide-spread adoption, some kind of structure will emerge.
Let’s hope the first glimpses of it will arrive this year.
Do you know in 2015, the world saw approximately 1 million knee arthroplasties for osteoarthritis? At $25,000 apiece, $25 billion.
How many of these patients had the good fortune of their doctor recommending PRP early on?
Global Stem Cells Group and its subsidiary Adimarket named representatives for Magellan Autologous Platelet Separator in Latin America and Middle East.
MIAMI, Nov. 29, 2017— Global Stem Cells Group (GSCG), a world leader in stem cell and regenerative medicine, and its subsidiary Adimarket have been named to represent the Magellan Autologous Platelet Separator in Latin America and Middle East.
Developed by Arteriorcyte Medical Systems, a leading medical device company headquartered in Hopkinton, Mass., the Magellan Autologous Platelet Separator is a high-tech, automated dual spin processing system designed for use in clinical laboratories or intraoperatively at the point-of-care for safe and rapid preparation of high-quality, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) as well as platelet poor plasma (PPP).
Global Stem Cells Group CEO Benito Novas says the Magellan system is a perfect fit for GSCG and Adimarket’s ever-growing list of high-tech regenerative medicine products and equipment, made available to physicians and qualified practitioners through the Adimarket online store.
“We share Arteriocyte’s commitment to research and development of blood component technology to advance treatments that benefit patients in the field of regenerative medicine,” Novas says. “The Magellan system furthers GSCG’s drive to invest in platelet separation technologies that focus on the development of new surgical applications for PRP and elevates these technologies to the next level.”
The fully-automated Magellan system is specifically designed to fractionate blood at bedside without a need for manual manipulation. At the end of its cycle, the Magellan PRP is delivered into a collection syringe, ready for immediate application.
As an industry leader, Adimarket added the Magellan Autologous Platelet Separator System to its online regenerative medicine store to allow physicians to meet the specific needs of each patient with fully customizable product volumes and platelet concentrations. The system can be programmed to deliver a volume of 3 – 10 mL from each processing cycle, allowing practitioners to customize the concentration per mL within the PRP. The Magellan system is approved for three processing cycles per disposable separation chamber, allowing for a maximum of 30 mL of product.
For more information, visit the Adimarket regenerative medicine online store website, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 305-560-5337.
About Global Stem Cells Group:
Global Stem Cells Group (GSCG) Global Stem Cells Group (GSCG) is a worldwide network that combines seven major medical corporations, each focused on furthering scientific and technological advancements to lead cutting-edge stem cell development, treatments, and training. The united efforts of GSCG’s affiliate companies provide medical practitioners with a one-stop hub for stem cell solutions that adhere to the highest medical standards.
Global stem cell’s mission is to be the largest recognized stem cell and regenerative medicine network in the world.
Adimarket, Inc., a division of the Global Stem Cells Group, is a one-stop, cost-competitive online marketplace for quality regenerative medicine equipment and supplies for physicians and health care professionals.
Adimarket was founded to provide practitioners the tools they need to practice regenerative medicine in a medical office setting. Motivated by a firm belief in the impact stem cell medicine can have when dispensed in a doctor’s office, Adimarket provides physicians with the tools they need to provide patients with cutting-edge treatments.
About Arteriorcyte Medical Systems:
Arteriocyte Medical Systems, Inc. is a leading medical device company committed to developing and marketing novel medical products to help patients heal faster. Established in 2007 by Arteriocyte, Inc. and DW Healthcare Partners, Arteriocyte Medical Systems is devoted to providing innovative solutions to patients and medical professionals to address serious unmet medical needs particularly in cardiac, orthopedic and vascular surgeries.
Magellan Autologous platelet separator