What are stem cells?
Stem cells are cells from which different types of tissue can develop. They therefore do not yet have a function and transform into the same type of cell as the contact cell when they come into contact with a special tissue, for example.
What is stem cell therapy?
Stem cell therapy is a type of therapy that makes use of the body's own resources and properties described above for healing. Foreign substances are not required for this.
Stem cell therapy, for example, is an ultra-modern form of therapy that offers many seriously ill patients the prospect of being effective without surgery or medication.
In stem cell therapy, cells are taken either from the bone marrow or the subcutaneous fatty tissue and injected into the target organ structure. Stem cells from the bone marrow, which have blood-forming functions, are usually used. Harvesting from other tissues is also possible, because stem cells are found in most tissues of the human body.
The ability of stem cells to renew and differentiate can be used medically to treat various diseases.
A transfer of stem cells is not only possible from a foreign donor. In autologous stem cell therapy, the cells are obtained from the patient, who then receives these cells back after they have undergone a preparation process.
We obtain the stem cells from abdominal fat, as many studies show that the concentration of stem cells in fatty tissue is up to 500 times higher than in bone marrow.
We obtain the stem cells from your subcutaneous fat tissue under local anaesthesia through a small liposuction of about 30 ml. By centrifuging the suspension, we obtain about 1.5 ml of stem cells. This contains approximately 1,200,000-1,500,000 stem cells. These stem cells are then injected into the recipient's tissue after a local anaesthetic.
How do stem cells work against osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage of a joint is destroyed and the bones are affected by rubbing against each other.
The affected persons suffer pain and lose their freedom of movement. This is because the joints become inflamed and swollen. The knee is often affected, but the finger and ankle joints are also common weak points.
In principle, all joints can develop osteoarthritis. Stem cell therapy is a new and promising form of treatment for osteoarthritis.
In our orthopaedic area, the treatment of the joints is in the foreground. In addition to renewing the tissue, inflammation is also inhibited. Through this combination, this therapy leads to pain relief and thus also to an increased ability to bear weight again.
Treatment with stem cells improves the natural cartilage layer and thus the function of the joint. This way you are sustainably pain-free, reduce inflammation factors and avoid prosthetic replacement in the long term.
How effective is the therapy for osteoarthritis?
A 2019 review* commissioned by the Korean Ministry of Health summarises the most important studies on osteoarthritis therapy with stem cells.
All 203 patients who took part in the six studies suffered from osteoarthritis of the knee joint of varying severity. They received stem cell therapy to the knee.
The knee joints are among the most frequently affected joints when it comes to osteoarthritis. Stem cell therapy on the knee ensures that patients can walk again without pain, because the stem cell transplant supports and regenerates the inflamed tissue. The released growth factors trigger the rebuilding of the tissue and inhibit the painful inflammation. Side effects are not to be expected.
*Kim et al: Intra-articular Injection of Culture-Expanded Mesenchymal Stem Cells Without Adjuvant Surgery in Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, 2019.
What does treatment against osteoarthritis look like in practice?
For osteoarthritis treatment, the stem cells are extracted from the fatty tissue or bone marrow and prepared. Then they are infiltrated into the successful tissue. They take effect there shortly after the treatment. Patients should be able to feel a clear improvement just a few days later.
Where can stem cell therapy be used?
So far, stem cell therapy has found little application in everyday medicine. But it is not only successful in the treatment of osteoarthritis.
The healthy cells can also help against many other diseases. A common area of application so far is blood cell donation for leukaemia therapy. Stem cells can also be of good service for skin burns, as they stimulate cell production in the injured area again. Recently, stem cells have also been used to treat eye damage.
Medical research is currently making intensive efforts to open up further areas of application and to make the use of stem cells useful against other diseases. Research is in full swing in the field of cardiovascular diseases, neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and paraplegia. Stem cells are even said to be able to repair diseased hearts. The stem cells are taken from the bone marrow of the patient. The future will show how successful the method is.
Dr Olaf Beck treats the following diseases with stem cell therapy:
- Knee osteoarthritis
- Hip osteoarthritis
- Shoulder arthrosis
- Ankle joint arthrosis
11. what is the recovery process?
This question is very individual and cannot be answered in general terms. It depends on the individual case and in particular on the type of surgical intervention. In any case, it will take several weeks before you can walk again without crutches after a knee operation, and it usually takes up to six months, and in some cases even 12 months, before you can put full weight on your knee again.
In the case of a cartilage cell transplant, for example, the knee can usually only be loaded normally again one year after the operation. The recovery process for cruciate ligament tears is also very long; full weight-bearing is not permitted until six months at the earliest. This is more difficult to assess in the case of meniscus surgery. Whatever knee surgery you have, it is very important that physiotherapy begins immediately after the operation and that the recovery process is well supervised by specialists. Therefore, do not miss the follow-up examinations under any circumstances. They help to ensure that the
Whatever knee surgery you get, it is very important that immediately after the operation physiotherapy begins and that the recovery process is professionally well accompanied. Therefore, do not miss the follow-up examinations under any circumstances. They help to ensure that the operation is worthwhile for you and that you can hopefully move (almost) pain-free again.