The Future is Now
We are living in an age which is devising technology that just a few years ago would be Science Fiction, and earlier than that it would be considered to be “magic”. The replacement of limbs and vital parts is only an innovation away, and no longer the stuff of Star Trek. The day of healing by regeneration of tissues is here. It is called Regenerative Medicine.
What is Regenerative Medicine?
The National Institutes of Health defines Regenerative Medicine as “the process of creating living, functional tissues to repair or replace tissue or organ function lost due to age, disease, damage or congenital defects. This field holds the promise of regenerating damaged tissues and organs in the body by stimulating previously irreparable organs to heal themselves.”
Chiropractic care will be revolutionized especially involving knee and spinal injuries, by growing tissues in the laboratory and safely implanting them when the body cannot heal itself otherwise.
Regenerative Medicine Expected to Expand Rapidly
Aging baby boomers are seeking alternative and unconventional treatments because traditional medicine and other modalities are not answering up to their needs. Cutting-edge treatments like stem cells, growth factors, hyaluronic acid and cytokines are anticipated to grow as a mainstay of healthcare.
What are stem cells? “Stem Cells are a class of undifferentiated cells sthat are able to differentiate into specialized cell types. Embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Both have potential to differentiate, or change, into different cell types such as skin, muscle, bone, etc.. These cells can divide or self-renew indefinitely, enabling them to generate a range of cell types from the originating organ or even regenerate the entire original organ.” (Medical News Today)
What is Hyaluronic Acid? “A substance that is naturally present in the human body. It is found in the highest concentrations in fluids in the eyes and joints. That which is used as medicine is extracted from rooster combs or made in the laboratory. It is used for joint disorders, including osteoarthritis. It can be taken by mouth or injected into the affect joint. It works by acting as a cushion and lubricant in the joints and other tissues. (WebMD)
What Are Cytokines? They are cell signaling molecules that aid cell to cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation, infection and trauma. Dr. Ananya Mandal, MD.
What are Growth Factors? A Growth Factor is a naturally occurring substance cap
able of stimulating cellular gown, proliferation, healing and cellular differentiation. An example is a cytokine. They often promote cell differentiation and maturation.
Regenerative Medicine relies on stem cells from amniotic and adult tissues, and reprogrammed cells, to enhance the use and effectiveness of tissues, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Researchers predict the sophisticated use of Regenerative Medicine will eventually supplant other forms of medical treatments.
What does this mean to Chiropractors everywhere? The playing field is going to change, and everyone must change with it. Soon there will be inexpensive treatments available that could supplant traditional Chiropractic as well as traditional medicine, so it would behoove Doctors to learn about it and see how to join this revolution.
Now Let’s Talk Money
Economists put the regenerative medicine industry at $18.9 billion in 2016 with growth expected to reach more than $53.7 billion by 2021. The compound annual growth rate is expected to reach 23.3 percent during this time, according to government statistics.
More than 700 regenerative medicine businesses are operating globally as government agencies and insurers continue working through the process of developing fair and adequate regulatory oversight and gauging responsible insurance reimbursements.
Government leaders are increasingly embracing what they consider a very promising and groundbreaking medical technology by granting public employees greater access and lowering the barriers for further research.
A good example of this is Arkansas’ Emerging Therapies Act of 2017, which became law in late May, which puts regenerative injection therapies for treating orthopedic conditions on state employees’ and teachers’ insurance plans. Arkansas became the first state to institute polices that permit coverage of coverage of these emerging therapies.
“This could potentially save the state $100 million using regenerative medicine as an alternative to surgery or pharmaceuticals for orthopedic conditions,” said Morgan Pile, executive vice president of Strongside Solutions. “Regenerative injection therapies like platelet rich plasma, bone marrow aspirate concentrate and amniotic tissue have been shown to be effective treatments with up to an 80 percent savings of surgical costs while virtually absent of complications.”
What Is Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP)?
Although blood is mainly a liquid (called plasma), it also contains small solid components (red cells, white cells, and platelets.) The platelets are best known for their importance in clotting blood. However, platelets also contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors which are very important in the healing of injuries.
PRP is plasma with many more platelets than what is typically found in blood. The concentration of platelets — and, thereby, the concentration of growth factors — can be 5 to 10 times greater (or richer) than usual.
To develop a PRP preparation, blood must first be drawn from a patient. The platelets are separated from other blood cells and their concentration is increased during a process called centrifugation. Then the increased concentration of platelets is combined with the remaining blood.
This is injected into the injured area of chronic tendon injuries, acute ligament and muscle injuries and a score of other orthopedic type maladies.
What is bone marrow aspirate concentrate?
Bone marrow aspirate concentrate is made from fluid taken from bone marrow. The bone marrow aspirate contains stem cells that can help the healing of some bone and joint conditions. Bone marrow aspirate concentrate is obtained with a minimally invasive procedure that avoids the risks of an open bone graft procedure.
Yes, this is indeed a Star Trek adventure, where we are “going where no man has gone before.” And it is truly happening in my lifetime, which is a dream that man has ever had that is a real Fountain of Youth. It can be envisioned that in just a decade or two that a failing organ may be replaced by a brand new healthy one. It seems to be limited only to the imagination of these innovators who are changing the climate of healthcare and the future of civilization.
It has been shown in laboratory tests to extend life of animal subjects, and will allow full and speedy recoveries without devastating surgical side effects, and ushers in the potential resolution of fatal diseases such as cancer, and diabetes.
It provides hope to patients suffering from serious diseases and grave disabilities, such as victims of spinal cord injuries or failing major organs, such as the heart and lungs.
So Chiropractors should be alerted that these changes are upon us, and could suddenly blossom as the favored treatment, with full insurance coverage and thus must be able to move with the times.