20 Jun The Ethics Behind Regenerative Stem Cells and Their Acquisition
As far as the practice of medicine goes, stem cell research is incredibly new. In the early 1980s scientists discovered how to derive stem cells from mouse embryos. That discovery led to the ability to derive stem cells from human embryos, in 1998. A few years later, under then-President George W. Bush, restrictive laws were passed regulating human embryonic stem cell research. Federal funding was cut and new regulations put into place which stated that medical research that destroyed embryos was unlawful.
Today, any and all stem cell research done in the United States is highly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration to ensure patient safety and ethical practices. Embryonic stem cell research remains highly-regulated in America, and great advances in regenerative stem cell therapy have come from the donation of products of conception and harvesting stem cells from patients themselves.
Products of Conception
Despite the completely ethical acquisition of stem cells from products of conception, some people still associate stem cells with “aborted fetuses” or embryos. The fact is that there is simply no ethical issue with the use of stem cells derived from products of conception. The United States regulates stem cell research and does not allow the destruction of embryos in that process. In the clinical use of regenerative materials that contain stem cells, NO babies are harmed at all.
Products of conception such as the umbilical cord and amniotic fluid are donated by a consenting adult. This happens when the donor is undergoing a scheduled c-section. Normally the products of conception would otherwise be properly disposed of. In the case of their donation, they are placed in a sterile container and taken to an FDA-certified lab. From beginning to end, the process is highly regulated by the FDA. Through the collection, transportation, storage, testing, and eventual regenerative therapy use, the proper procedure is followed and regulated.
No Threat to Mother or Child
The donation of products of conception poses no threat to mother or child before, during, or after the c-section procedure. The donors are under 35 years of age, informed, tested, and screened as per FDA regulations.
Bone Marrow Harvesting
Another way of harvesting stem cells is to take them from the patient’s own bone marrow and inject them into the afflicted area. This procedure is known as bone marrow-derived stem cell therapy.
In order to get to the correct type and highest concentration of stem cells, the procedure requires harvesting from the iliac crest, which is part of the hip bone. Once about 30 to 60 cc’s of bone marrow are harvested, they are processed and the regenerative cells are concentrated. Then the doctor injects them into the afflicted area to promote regeneration and healing. The whole process is usually very quick and does not require hospitalization.
Internally Sourced Stem Cells
Since the stem cells are sourced from inside the patient, there is no ethical dilemma. The human body is always making new bone marrow, so taking a little bit is not a big deal. It is a relatively simple, quick, and low-risk procedure and some consider an alternative to different types of surgery.
Since stem cells are an essential building block of the human body, they can be found even in fat around the abdomen. These are referred to as adipose stem cells.
Adipose stem cells are harvested by creating small incisions in the abdomen. Then a procedure much like liposuction is performed to collect some of the adipose tissue. These cells are then processed at the same setting and then injected into the afflicted area.
Internally Sourced Stem Cells
Since adipose stem cells, like those harvested from bone marrow, are sourced from inside the patient, there is no ethical dilemma. The body can always generate more fat, so the small amount of tissue taken is not a big deal.
No Ethical Dilemmas
As you can see, the stem cells harvested at R3’s Centers of Excellence, or donated by consenting adults, pose no ethical dilemmas whatsoever. Embryonic stem cells are illegal for use or research in the United States, and the FDA heavily regulates all aspects of stem cell use, storage, and donation. All of the stem cell therapy procedures at R3 are outpatient and carry very low risk.
Regenerative therapy is looking more promising every day for relieving a wide range of conditions including arthritis, back pain, carpal tunnel, ligament injuries, tendonitis, neurological conditions, diabetes, and sports injuries, just to name a few. None of the procedures are FDA approved, and won’t be until we have larger studies in peer-reviewed journals.
Contact us today to speak to a doctor about the other benefits of regenerative stem cell therapy.