In recent years, doctors have made noteworthy and exciting progress in treating various ailments with an innovative procedure – cell injection. The most well-known of these treatments involves the use of stem cells, which have long been known to help repair damaged parts of the body. However, medical practitioners have begun to use this concept to treat other prominent illnesses, and have reaped encouraging results.
The most publicized benefit of stem cells is their ability to regenerate tissues and organs. Researchers have now discovered that this procedure may also be used to effectively treat arthritis. The Centeno-Schultz Clinic in Broomfield, Colorado has established an effective procedure for treating arthritis patients using stem cells.
Doctors at the clinic begin this process by removing adult stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow. The cells are then brought to a laboratory, where they are inserted into pieces of tissue in a controlled environment. Once inside the tissue, the cells begin to multiply. Finally, the stem cells are extracted from the tissue and injected into the areas of the patient’s body afflicted by arthritis. After they have been injected into the patient, the cells begin to restore and regenerate cartilage. They have also been used to repair torn ligaments by morphing into pieces of ligaments, tendons or bones.
As an added benefit, patients who receive this treatment face no threat of infection, as the stem cells are taken from the patients themselves. This also means that the patient’s body will not reject the cells that have been multiplied from the original sample. Research has even suggested that this same procedure can also be used to treat heart failure, diabetes, lupus, MS and macular degeneration.
Putting Research into Practice
Cell injections have recently been used to help a patient fight cancer. In 2006, a 50-year old man from the United Kingdom was injected with billions of his own immune cells. The man had been diagnosed with advanced skin cancer, which had spread to his lymph nodes and one of his lungs. Within eight weeks, the patient’s tumors had disappeared; two years later, the man was cancer-free.
The man’s doctors achieved this result by identifying the cells which were most successful in fighting the cancer. These cells were then collected from the patient, cloned, and injected back into the man’s body. A similar type of treatment had also been used on two US men in 2006, and was successful in eradicating cancer in both patients. Though cancer experts caution that this method, called immunotherapy, required additional testing among larger clinical groups, they are encouraged by the treatment’s positive results.
Research has also shown that cell injections can heal factures in long, hollow bones in the body, known as “long bones.” In a study published in the open access journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, doctors found that fractures in long bones were healed completely after the patients were injected with osteoblast cells. As with other cell injections, these cells were originally extracted from the patients, multiplied in sterile laboratories, and injected back into the test subjects. Researchers conclusively determined that patients who had undergone this procedure healed significantly faster than those who were treated using traditional methods.
Cell injections have even been shown to greatly improve eyesight. A 14-month old Billings, Montana girl received a total of seven stem cell injections over a month-long period to strengthen her vision, which was limited to a mere 1 foot in range. The girl’s family was forced to travel to China for the procedure, as US doctors considered it to be too experimental to perform. Miraculously, the girl’s vision showed tremendous improvement following the injections; she is now able to see up to 25 feet away.
Cell injection treatments will likely see continued attention from researchers in the coming decades. In the future, patients suffering from serious diseases and health problems may find that they represent a realistic treatment option.