Taking a glass in the hand or going up the stairs is as normal for us as the daily sunrise. But there are diseases that make such simple things difficult or even impossible. Like it is in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a rare disease which is currently in the media because celebrities splash themselves with ice water in favor of an ALS charity initiative.
Also nerve injuries can cause loss of control of muscles.
When a nerve is damaged, the signal from the brain to the muscle is interrupted and the muscle cannot do its job. Due to not being activated properly the unused muscle shrinks.
In a study such nerve defects were treated with autologous fat stem cells in rats. It was found that the nerve heals faster because of the stem cell therapy, muscle function rises again and the inflammation is reduced. They even found that administered stem cells migrate to the damaged nerve where they specifically initiate healing and regeneration.
Does this mean nerve regeneration is possible and that we can heal nerve defects using stem cells in humans? Of course, caution should always be exercised when it comes to possible promises of healing. At least some optimism is justified. Affected patients know that even a small gain in autonomy, which is associated with improved control over the muscles, counts considerably. The sooner this method is applied the better are probably the therapeutic results.
In our clinic we perform therapies with stem cells from body fat. Here, a small amount of fat is harvested with liposuction first under local anesthesia. Then stem cells (Stromal Vascular Fraction, SVF) are isolated from the fat in a complex lab procedure. The stem cells are then injected locally into the affected parts of the body, or depending on the indication, administered intravenously. The intravenously administered stem cells migrate into the body regions where they can develop their healing properties. This process is called “homing”.
DDr. Heinrich, MD