Stem Cell Therapy for Spinal Cord Injury
What is Spinal Cord Injury?
Spinal cord injury (SCI) occurs when the spinal cord becomes damaged, most commonly, when motor vehicle accidents, falls, acts of violence, or sporting accidents fracture vertebrae and crush or transect the spinal cord.
Damage to the spinal cord usually results in impairments or loss of muscle movement, muscle control, sensation and body system control.
Can stem cells help treat spinal cord injury?
Presently, post-accident care for spinal cord injury patients focuses on extensive physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other rehabilitation therapies; teaching the injured person how to cope with their disability.
A number of published papers and case studies support the feasibility of treating spinal cord injury with allogeneic human umbilical cord tissue-derived stem cells and autologous bone marrow-derived stem cells.
Feasibility of combination allogeneic stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury: a case report co-authored by Stem Cell Institute Founder Neil H. Riordan PA, PhD references many of them. Published improvements include improved ASIA scores, improved bladder and/or bowel function, recovered sexual function, and increased muscle control.
Through administration of umbilical cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells, we have observed improvements in spinal cord injury patients treated at our facilities.
In a patients’ own words:
Which types of stem cells are used to treat spinal cord injuries and how are they collected?
The adult stem cells used to treat spinal cord injuries at the Stem Cell Institute come from two sources: the patient’s own bone marrow (autologous mesenchymal and CD34+) and human umbilical cord tissue(allogeneic mesenchymal). Umbilical cords are donated by mothers after normal, healthy births.
A licensed anesthesiologist harvests bone marrow from both hips under light general anesthesia in a hospital operating room. This procedure takes about 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Before they are administered to the patient, these bone marrow-derived stem cells must pass testing for quality, bacterial contamination (aerobic and anaerobic) and endotoxin.
All donated umbilical cords are screened for viruses and bacteria to International Blood Bank Standards.
Only a small percentage of donated umbilical cords pass our rigorous screening process.
Dr. Riordan on the Umbilical Cord Selection Process at Stem Cell Institute
“Through retrospective analysis of our cases, we’ve identified proteins and genes that allow us to screen several hundred umbilical cord donations to find the ones that we know are most effective. We only use these cells and we call them ‘golden cells’.
We go through a very high throughput screening process to find cells that we know have the best anti-inflammatory activity, the best immune modulating capacity, and the best ability to stimulate regeneration.”
What are the advantages of treating spinal cord injury with allogeneic umbilical cord tissue-derived stem cells?
Since HUCT mesenchymal stem cells are immune system privileged, cell rejection is not an issue and Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) matching is not necessary.
The stem cells with the best anti-inflammatory activity, immune modulating capacity, and ability to stimulate regeneration can be screened and selected.
Allogeneic stem cells can be administered multiple times over the course of days in uniform dosages that contain high cell counts.
Umbilical cord tissue provides an abundant supply of mesenchymal stem cells.
There is a growing body of evidence showing that umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells are more robust than mesenchymal stem cells from other sources.
No need to administer chemotherapy drugs like Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF or GCSF) to stimulate the bone marrow to produce granulocytes and stem cells and release them into the bloodstream.
Our mesenchymal stem cells and the US FDA: Are they approved?
Human umbilical cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that were isolated and grown in our laboratory in Panama to create master cell banks are currently being used in the United States under US FDA regulation.
These cells serve as the starting material for cellular products used in MSC clinical trials for two Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy patients under US FDA’s designation of Investigational New Drug (IND) for single patient compassionate use. (IND 16026 DMD Single Patient).
Will the patient reject this type of stem cell?
The body’s immune system is unable to recognize umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells as foreign and therefore they are not rejected. HUCT stem cells have been administered thousands of times at the Stem Cell Institute and there has never been a single instance rejection (graft vs. host disease). As a matter of fact, allogeneic (not the patient’s own) mesenchymal stem cells are approved to treat graft vs. host disease in Canada and New Zealand.
Umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells also proliferate/differentiate more efficiently than “older” cells, such as those found in the fat and therefore, they are considered to be more “potent”.
In the words of an expert:
In this next video (just past the 1 minute mark), Arnold Caplan, PhD explains the mechanism by which donor mesenchymal stem cells shield themselves from the recipient’s immune system. Dr. Caplan is the scientist who discovered the mesenchymal stem cell. He is commonly referred to as “the father of the mesenchymal stem cell”.
How are the stem cells administered for spinal cord injury treatment?
Our stem cell treatment protocol for spinal cord injury calls for a total of 16 injections over the course of 4 weeks.
The bone marrow-derived and umbilical cord tissue-derived stem cells are both administered intravenously by a licensed physician.
They are also injected intrathecally (into the spinal fluid) by an experienced anesthesiologist. Intrathecal injection enables the stem cells to bypass the blood-brain barrier and migrate to the injury site within the spinal canal.
Stem Cell Treatment: Spinal Cord Injury *Protocols
Treatment protocol will be assigned by staff physicians after the patient has submitted all requested medical information and received approval. A patient’s recommended protocol may differ from the example given below.
Treatment duration: 4 weeks
Physical examination, blood testing and bone marrow collection
8 intrathecal (spinal canal) injections of expanded umbilical cord tissue-derived stem cells
4 intravenous injections (IV) expanded umbilical cord tissue-derived stem cells
2 intrathecal (lumbar puncture) injections of bone marrow-derived stem cells
2 intravenous injections (IV) bone marrow-derived stem cells (upon availability after IT injections)
16 physical therapy sessions throughout stay
Stem-kine supplement for 1 month (only after medical evaluation in Panama)
*Includes Hilton hotel room with breakfast, WIFI, transportation from and to the airport with VIP airport gate service and expedited customs clearance upon arrival, and transportation between the Hilton and Stem Cell Institute.
Will someone from the Stem Cell Institute be following up with me after I return home?
Our medical staff will be contacting you at regular intervals to see how you are doing. Periodic follow-up also helps us evaluate overall treatment efficacy. Therefore, our medical staff will follow up with you after 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year.
May I speak with any successfully treated spinal cord injury patients?
Yes, you may. Once you have been evaluated and approved for treatment, your patient coordinator will be happy to put you in touch with treated patients who have volunteered to share their experiences in Panama with others.
You may also take a look at written testimonials, news articles and videos from some of our treated spinal cord injury patients. Please take a look!
How do I request more information?
You may contact us by telephone 1 (800) 980-STEM (toll-free in US) and 1 (954) 358-3382.
Apply for treatment today
To apply for stem cell treatment, please complete this Patient Application Form.
Read Dr. Riordan’s new book about stem cell therapy today
Stem cells are the repair cells of your body. When there aren’t enough of them, or they aren’t working properly, chronic diseases can manifest and persist.
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From industry leaders, sport stars, and Hollywood icons to thousands of everyday, ordinary people, stem cell therapy has helped when standard medicine failed. Many of them had lost hope. These are their stories.
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