Most people have heard of stem cell therapy for treatments of various ailments. But not many have heard of exosome therapy, but you will, and soon. Stem cells are basically immature cells in our bodies that have the ability to turn into mature cells. A stem cell can turn into a nerve cell, a heart cell, a bone cell, etc. When we are born we have many, many stem cells throughout our bodies. As time goes on, the stem cell population in our bodies decreases. Our bodies use stem cell to repair ourselves. The more stem cells we have, the quicker we heal. We can recall that, as children, when we received cuts, scrapes or bruises, it did not take long to heal. But as we grow older, it takes longer to heal. One reason is that our stem cell population is reduced; we have less cells to change into new cells to replace damaged ones. Some patients have had stem cells taken from their bodies. There are many stem cells among fat cells, so liposuction is used to harvest stem cells. They are then placed in injured areas, such as osteoarthritic joints to repair and make joints almost as good as new. Many outcomes have been stunning, and some fair. Medicine did not know why there were different responses to treatments until now.
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It now appears that the “magic” with stem cells therapy involves something called exosomes. Exosomes are vacuoles (look like bubbles) that come from within a cell and are released from the cell to enter the blood stream. We have known about these vacuoles for decades, but we thought this was a way for cells to jettison cellular trash. Now we are able to analyze what is inside these vacuoles and it appears they contain regenerative proteins and RNA (from DNA, the genetic material). It is this material that can direct the cell to change, and to repair itself. These vacuoles are called exosomes and look like tiny seltzer bubbles attached to the outside of the cell wall. A problem is, that as we age, the number of exosomes we produce, reduces, so our regenerative ability goes down. But science now can collect large amounts of exosomes from newborn umbilical cords. A fabulous feature about umbilical cord exosomes, is that they are antigen neutral, meaning that they will not initiate an immune response from the recipient. This means that anyone can be treated with umbilical cord exosomes to treat diseases, with very impressive results. Some usage for exosomes has been in the treatment for atherosclerosis, heart failure, cardiac regeneration, cardiomyopathy, retinal (macular degeneration) and optic nerve conditions, nerve damage, Alzheimer’s disease, joint pathology (osteoarthritis and injury). Doctors have seen some patients see again after being blinded from macular degeneration. Other doctors have seen a reversal of bone on bone joint problems with total reversal and not needing a hip or knee replacement.
This is not a standard of care, yet. But Exosomal therapy is showing great promise. A lot of work is being done currently. The future is looking very promising. Use your search engine to learn more, or next time you see your health care provider, ask for updated information.