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Over the past several years, umbilical cord stem cell therapy has become extremely popular. There are several biological components that combine to make up regenerative therapy with these “products of conception” including:
First of all, it should be noted that none of these products contain embryonic stem cells or involve aborted fetuses. That would be both unethical and illegal. All of R3 Stem Cell’s Centers of Excellence only use products that are obtained ethically and processed at FDA Certified labs.
In the same fashion that the umbilical cord, placenta and amniotic fluid protect the growing baby and help it thrive, these biological cells have shown to be instrumental in helping repair and regenerate damaged tissues in the body. It’s been very exciting to see the outstanding outcomes achieved with the usage of umbilical cord materials!
R3 Stem Cell has put together a Consumer Guide to Amniotic and Umbilical Stem Cell Therapy. Here is the content:
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Here are answers to many of the frequently asked questions we receive.
Regenerative medicine refers to therapies that are able to repair, restore and regenerate damaged tissues in the body. These therapies represent a significant advancement from traditional ones that only offer symptom relief as a proverbial “band-aid”.
Regenerative procedures come in two forms. Those that require a biologic harvest from the patient (bone marrow or adipose tissue), or those that come from an external source (e.g. PRP Therapy, amniotic fluid/membrane, and umbilical cord blood/tissue).
There are significant myths and misinformation that have been propagated regarding the external source regenerative biologics. A lot of these myths are disseminated by industry competitors who have presented biased and manipulated data to confuse prospective patients.
In this Consumer Guide, R3 Stem Cell will debunk these myths so consumers can make an educated decision regarding their healthcare decisions.
Known as the “products of conception”, the regenerative materials from amniotic and umbilical tissue include the following:
The exact function of these materials supporting growth and health of the fetus is outside the scope of this guide. However, understand that a lot of the functions provided during fetal growth translate into patient benefit during regenerative procedures such as preventing infection and tissue growth of all types such as collagen, tendon, lung, kidney, heart, etc.
Research performed on the products of conception have shown several benefits to what the materials contain including:
The best analogy applicable is that the products of conception produce regenerative materials that contain a full “orchestra” of components to treat patients!
Note: You may see competitor marketing materials that state “products of conception” do not contain live cells. This is true if the biologics are radiated during processing or contain too much preservative. But it is not true if the materials have been processed without significant radiation or preservatives. This is why R3 is VERY careful about the labs we work with so patients receive products that are safe and of the highest quality to produce the best outcomes possible!
The amniotic and umbilical cord tissues are obtained from healthy, consenting donors who are under the age of 35 and undergoing a scheduled c-section. The FDA strictly regulates the process of how these tissues are acquired, tested, processed and stored to ensure the highest level of patient safety.
During a normal, scheduled c-section, the products of conception are normally discarded. This includes the amniotic fluid, placenta, umbilical cord and accompanying materials. In this case, the products of conception are donated by the mother, with the baby being fine. The materials are placed in a sterile container and taken to the nearby FDA registered, certified laboratory right away.
No there are not. None of the biologic materials come from “aborted fetuses”. During the biologic acquisition, the babies are fine and the material donated and used is normally discarded.
In addition, no embryonic stem cells are used in the US anymore legally. There is no fetal tissue, no cloning and all donors are consented and screened according to FDA regulations.
So what this means is there are NO ethical concerns with the materials being used from the products of conception.
The list of conditions that may benefit from amniotic/umbilical procedures is extensive and continues to grow. With the way these biologics are regulated by the FDA, they may be used for conditions where physicians deem them to be safe and clinically useful. Our disclaimer is consistent: No therapies mentioned here have been evaluated by the FDA. As with any medical procedures, R3 Stem Cell does not guarantee any particular outcome. No protocol or specific biologic indication has been evaluated or approved by the FDA.
In the research literature and from our provider’s experience, there are benefits being shown for:
Currently insurance does not cover regenerative procedures. There are several reasons for this and it is not because they “don’t’ work.” Insurance coverage gets complicated even for FDA Approved drugs, and keep in mind there is no way a pharmaceutical company can patent amniotic fluid or umbilical cord tissue!
It is extremely common for new technology to take 5-10 years before it becomes accepted for coverage from commercial payers and Medicare. One excellent advancement is that several states now cover the procedures under a Worker’s Compensation claim, since it has been shown to be helpful getting patients back on the job!
R3 Stem Cell’s Centers do not want finances to get in the way of receiving regenerative therapies. For this reason there are several financing options and payment plans available.
PRP stands for platelet rich plasma and involves a simple blood draw from the patient. This blood is placed into a kit and spun quickly for 10-15 minutes in a centrifuge machine. What this does is separate the blood into several layers.
The middle layer is termed the “buffy coat” and contains concentrated platelets, white blood cells, and 8-12 growth factors. There are minimal stem cells in PRP, if any, so it is a very helpful regenerative biologic but not a stem cell therapy.
Amniotic and umbilical cord materials contain over 80 growth factors along with an extensive amount of cytokines, mRNA, exosomes, secretomes and additional biologic elements including stem cells. The amount of these elements varies depending on the lab that processes the material and depends on the amount of preservative, radiation, etc.
A considerable body of research on products of conception has either been published in peer reviewed journals or presented at professional society meetings nationwide. New studies are added monthly to this body of work, and time after time usage of amniotic and umbilical materials has been shown to be safe.
In addition, these materials have been shown to work well overall for musculoskeletal conditions, neurodegenerative issues, autism, stroke, organ failure, autoimmune conditions and “tough to treat” issues like Lyme disease.
We have listed several references at the bottom of this guide for review and go to pubmed.com for a comprehensive list by searching.
The short answer is no. While the actual biologic material from the donor is extremely similar, the processing can vary. All donors are heavily screened for diseases and are under the age of 35. The DNA factors are removed to prevent rejection, making the biologic material immunologically privileged.
The main differences occur when the material is processed at the FDA Certified lab. While the FDA is strict about how the materials are processed, there are some significant differences that can take place. For instance, some labs will radiate the biologic which essentially kills all the cells. Others will use a LOT of preservative which will kill all the cells instead of preserving them.
Suffice it to say that not all of these products are the same once processing is complete. So it is critical to receive treatment from an expert provider who is using a quality product. R3 Stem Cell has vetted the materials used extensively, which is just one reason why over 10,000 patients have received treatment at our Centers of Excellence over the past six years.
It is improper for ANYONE to provide an unrealistic expectation of what these therapies can do. Using the words “heal” or “cure” is inappropriate and propagates distrust among patients. No study shows 100% effectiveness, and more likely than not patients will see improvement and relief, but NOT a cure. We get asked all the time if our affiliated providers offer a “Guarantee”, and the answer is no because medical procedures are never fool proof. More reasonable words to use are facilitate, mitigate, or improve.
The biologic elements in these materials work together to repair damaged tissue and also facilitate one’s own body to assist in the process as well. Just how much improvement achieved will vary since people are UNIQUE AND DIFFERENT!
The father of modern stem cell therapy is Dr. Arnold Caplan, a researcher at Case Western Reserve University. His extensive work has shown that the regenerative materials used are predominantly acting as signals to one’s body, telling the body to “get to work” and repair itself.He actually recommends changing the abbreviation of MSC’s, which normally stands for Mesenchymal Stem Cells, to Medicinal Signaling Cells.
The goal is to “more accurately reflect the fact that these cells home in on sites of injury or disease and secrete bioactive factors that are immunomodulatory and trophic (regenerative) meaning that these cells make therapeutic drugs in situ that are medicinal.”He continues, “It is, indeed, the patient’s own site-specific and tissue-specific resident stem cells that construct the new tissue as stimulated by the bioactive factors secreted by the exogenously supplied MSCs.”
No they are not. They are not regulated as drugs, rather they fall into the biologics category. These are regulated heavily by the FDA, but do not get approved or denied.Here is how the FDA regulates things:
Medical devices – joint implants, screws/rods, DME, etc. In the world of regenerative medicine, this only applies to the kits used in PRP, bone marrow or adipose procedures.
Drugs – think of Lipitor, Vicodin, Viagra, etc. These are medications that have gone through a clinical trial and been approved for a specific indication.
Biologics – the FDA strictly regulates how biologic materials are acquired, processed, stored and used under the CFR Part 1271. Amniotic and umbilical materials fall under this category, which does not involve an Approval/Denial process like drugs do.
Specifically, the section under Part 1271 that applies to amniotic/umbilical tissues is Section 361 products, which are not required to be licensed or approved by the FDA and are regulated under Section 361 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act.
R3 Stem Cell has Centers of Excellence nationwide where you can obtain regenerative procedures. If the center closest to you does not perform the necessary procedure (e.g. for dementia or autism), we have a concierge service to assist your travel needs to one that does!
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*Outcomes will vary between individuals. No claims are being made with regenerative therapies. The FDA considers stem cell therapy experimental. See our THERAPY COMMITMENT HERE.
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