Stem Cells and Your Joints
Stem Cells to the RescueEarly on in the development of stem cell research, it was discovered that bone marrow stem cells had the ability to transform into cells of muscle and bone, and to support the reconstitution of tendon and cartilage. One approach for the treatment of arthritis was to develop scaffolds made of organic matter, like polysaccharides, which would eventually dissolve but would provide a matrix upon which stem cells could form chondrocytes that would in turn make cartilage. Others scientists used a more direct approach of simply injecting bone marrow stem cells directly into the joint, with or without scaffolding, along with various methods to help the stem cells stay within the joint and transform into cells capable of producing cartilage.
Endogenous Stem Cell Mobilization and Joint RepairIn the course of these investigations, stem cells were documented as having the ability to migrate into an injured joint and to participate in tissue repair. In one study, the release of stem cells from the bone marrow was stimulated in order to harvest stem cells from the patients with the purpose of later re-injecting these stem cells in the patient’s blood. In this study, 15% of the participants reported significant improvements after the simple procedure of releasing their own stem cells, without any stem cell injections.
One noteworthy article reported the case of a woman who had suffered from debilitating rheumatoid arthritis for more than 10 years. At the time of the study, she was unable to bathe and dress herself unaided, and unable to walk. Consuming a natural stem cell enhancer daily, she began experiencing significant benefits after 3 months, with the recovery of the ability to walk and function autonomously after 1 year.