Regenerative medicine can be defined as ‘an interdisciplinary field of research and clinical applications focused on the repair, replacement or regeneration of cells, tissues or organs to restore impaired function resulting from any cause, including congenital defects, disease, trauma and ageing’.
Regenerative aesthetics refers to the application of regenerative medicine principles in aesthetic or cosmetic treatments, products and services. Regenerative medicine is the harnessing or management of the body’s own natural potential to repair, restore and rejuvenate damaged or aging cells and structures to a more healthy and youthful state. The human body is blessed with an incredible potential to repair and rejuvenate itself through the intricate and complicated interaction of growth factors and specific signaling peptides.
What is Wharton’s Jelly
Wharton’s Jelly is a minimally manipulated human tissue allograph suspension that is derived from the Wharton’s Jelly of the umbilical cord. Wharton’s Jelly is a gelatinous tissue that is made of proteins, collagen, and hyaluronic acid (joint lubricant), that houses mesenchymal stem cells. These stem cells are a source of growth factors, cytokines (anti-inflammatory), chemokines, and exosomes.
Wharton’s jelly is a rather unique body fluid. It is the connective tissue found within the umbilical cord. While Wharton’s jelly is connective tissue, it more closely resembles gelatin. Historically this material was discarded as medical waste; however, Wharton’s jelly has been shown to contain a number of therapeutic substances. Among these healing substances found within Wharton’s jelly is an abundant supply of mesenchymal stem cells.
The stem cells found in Wharton’s jelly are rather unique. Perhaps most importantly, the cells are immuno-privileged. This means they are not readily recognized by the immune system. Consequently, the stem cells can be taken from the umbilical cord, purified, and then injected into a patient with little risk of the patient having an immune reaction to the cells. These particular mesenchymal stem cells are also interesting because they are relatively “primitive,” which means they have some of the same properties of embryonic stem cells.
I understand that the possible benefits and values of this treatment are:
- Regenerative effects of Wharton’s Jelly, in injection form, may improve wound healing, tendonitis, osteoarthritis, fasciitis, ligament and muscle damage, joint inflammation and pain.
- Wharton’s Jelly site-specific injection signals the body to produce new cells to replace injured cells at the site.
- I understand that it may be necessary to require more than one treatment depending on my response and the evaluations of my healthcare provider.
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Stem cells taken from Wharton’s jelly are already being used in some clinical studies. For example, researchers in one clinical study injected type 2 diabetes patients with Wharton’s jelly-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Within six months of treatment, 7 of 22 patients became insulin-free and 5 were able to reduce the amount of insulin they needed by more than 50%. Only one patient out of the 22 did not respond to the stem cells at all. The cells have also been tested in systemic lupus erythematosus, better known as simply lupus. Forty patients received Wharton’s jelly mesenchymal stem cells intravenously. Thirteen patients enjoyed a major clinical response while 11 enjoyed a partial clinical response of their lupus symptoms.
As more clinical studies are done on Wharton’s jelly-derived mesenchymal stem cells, we will learn what other diseases can be treated with this once-discarded substance. Early indications show a very promising future.