In the last few years, there have been continued advances in the research and success rate of orthobiologic therapy and cell-based therapy. These treatments hold a great deal of promise to treat patients in specialized clinical practices. 

What is Cellular Therapy?

Cellular therapy is the process of healing human cells or tissue to reestablish normal functions. Repairing the damaged tissue or cells is achieved by stimulating the body’s own natural ability to heal itself. This type of medicine also allows specialists to repair cells and tissue when a patient’s body is incapable of healing itself. 

Cell-Based Therapy

“Science is rapidly transforming how we think about the future of medicine,” said ISSCR president Douglas Melton. “The field is actively working to address how we facilitate getting potential therapies from the lab bench to clinical application.”

Specific types of cells can develop into many different types of cells in the body, which is why orthobiologic therapy is so beneficial in the role of cell-based therapies. Orthobiologics serve as a repair system and can hypothetically divide exponentially to regrow other cells.

Research is constantly underway to determine cellular therapy application and uses in transplants and regenerative medicine. 

How are Cell-Based and Orthobiologic Treatments Related?

Because regenerative medicine harnesses the body’s ability to heal its own cells and tissue, there is a direct correlation between the use of orthobiologics and cellular therapy, including adult and induced pluripotent cells.  These types of cells may be used in developmental biology to determine the genes and pathways involved in how cells turn into specific cell types such as liver or muscle cells. Orthobiologics are also used to test new Pharma drugs and determine how effective new drugs are to particular diseases and conditions.  Stem cells play a crucial role in Cell-Based Therapy: a therapy that utilizes the understanding of cell development, how they morph into different cell types, and how they are maintained. 

Understanding cellular development may lead to one day being able to replace the need for organ donations or reduce the complications that go along with it, such as rejection or tissue insufficiency. 

Types of Cellular Therapy 

Depending on the site and degree of injury, cellular therapy specialists may recommend the following treatments (or a combination of them):

·  Platelet Rich Plasma puts the healing properties of the patient’s blood to work to heal damaged joints, tendons, and muscles. The platelets in blood release growth factors and proteins that promote tissue repair, while the plasma carries the hormones, electrolytes, and nutrients required to nourish cells during the healing process. To be truly effective, PRP treatments should be customized to the particular injury by creating specific formulations for each type of tissue being treated (muscle, tendon, ligament, etc.)

·   Orthobiologics use cells derived from the patient’s own bone marrow.  These cells produce molecules that direct other cells in the area to form new blood vessels, awaken other cells, and encourage newly forming cells to produce collagen and other proteins essential for creating new healthy tissues. These cells have the unique ability to develop into the specific kind of cell needed, whether that be a tendon, ligament, cartilage, or bone. Skilled practitioners use highly specialized centrifuges to prepare high concentrations of the cells delivered directly to the injured area to become the specific kind of cell needed to address the injury.

·   Prolotherapy (Proliferative Therapy) injects dextrose and other medications into a chronically injured ligament, tendon, joint, or another body part to help the body jump-start its own natural healing response. In some cases, prolotherapy can be used with platelet-rich plasma to expedite healing. 

Cell-based therapy has entered the world of specialized clinical practice thanks to quickly evolving technology and advancements in understanding how cells work in the body. As research continues, the field of Orthobiologics and cellular therapy will grow and give doctors more options to treat many conditions and diseases.