When embryonic Stem Cell therapy was first discovered in 1998, it changed the face of medicine. The idea of being able to regenerate and replace damaged cells seemed futuristic at the time, yet today such treatments are commonplace. Now, science has taken another quantum leap – this time into the nano-sized world of exosomes, tiny bubbles that grow out of cell walls and contain much of the information contained within the cell including Growth factors, microRNA and messenger RNA. Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) exosome therapy is currently one of the hottest trends in regenerative medicine, one that patients at AM Medical in Yelm can now experience.
“Everyone has heard of stem cell therapy, but it turns out that it’s not the stem cells that are doing the work,” says Dr. Ana Mihalcea, President of AM Medical. “It’s the exosomes that carry the information of regeneration. Infused stem cells, attach to blood vessel walls, and then give off exosomes.”
Exosomes have several key differences from stem cells; they do not get removed from the circulation like stem cells, which are in the body for less than 72 hours before they get destroyed by the immune system; they do not produce a rejection reaction because they are not a cell and contain no DNA, and they pass the blood brain barrier, Mihalcea notes. “In a study on stroke scientists fluorescently tagged exosomes, and the infused exosomes went exactly to the region where the stroke had occurred,” she adds. The same was not true of stem cells as they do not cross the blood brain barrier.
As a result of their powerful cargo, exosomes can be used to address a multitude of conditions, including arthritis, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular and neurogenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Old cells can be reprogrammed by MSC exosomes as the target cells can transcribe the microRNA into functional proteins. “Just like a virus, the exosome information of the young stem cells can ‘infect’ the old cells with Youth,” explains Mihalcea.
Spinal cord injuries are an area in which exosomes have produced dramatic results. Mihalcea cites the example of Dr. Douglas J. Spiel’s Interventional Pain Specialty Practice in NJ. “Dr. Spiel has been able to rehabilitate spinal cord injuries with Exosome infusions into the spine and intravenously,” she says. “After several weeks, he’s had patients regain muscle strength and sensation. These are prolonged, ongoing regenerative effects that continued to improve for months after the infusion.”
When it comes to autoimmune diseases, inflammation plays a key role. Again, exosomes are able to reduce the problem by downregulating inflammation. “TGF Beta 3 [Transforming growth factor beta-3] is the most important anti-inflammatory protein in the body and is abundant in MSC exosomes” says Mihalcea. Many more Growth factors for blood vessel growth, neuronal and other tissue growth are present, allowing regenerative effects in all organ systems including skin wounds and burns.
The exosomes at AM Medical come from a laboratory in Florida that conducted pioneering research in the field. They come from perinatal mesenchymal stem cells and are scanned for any possible viruses to ensure their safety. Once harvested, the exosomes are concentrated so they can be infused in large doses.
For patients who qualify, the infusion process takes 10 to 15 minutes. Already, it’s been producing results for AM Medical patients. “We’ve had people with arthritis and chronic pain who had great responses,” Mihalcea notes. There is an overall increase in wellbeing and sense of rejuvenation that is definitely noticeable.”
Perhaps one of the largest sources of excitement over exosomes has to do with their anti-aging effects. Recently, ideas about the root causes of aging have been evolving, according to Mihalcea. “It’s been thought that aging occurs due to multiple different reasons like stem cell exhaustion, epigenetic changes, telomere shortening and others,” she explains. “It turns out that exosomes can modify almost all the hallmarks of aging. They’re changing epigenetic expression to youthful function, and there are many potential applications. This is a new frontier in regenerative medicine that can help many people.”
Learn more by watching Dr. Ana Mihalcea’s video on Exosomes – The New Frontier Part 1: Longevity and Age reversal or reading further on the AM Medical website.