Now stem cell therapy for bone and joint conditions is now mainstream. There are plenty of small to medium size studies which show the effectiveness of the treatment. And amniotic fluid has been great for treatment for a few reasons. One is that it’s readily available. There are women every day undergoing a scheduled C-section who are willing to donate their amniotic fluid to help other people. The baby’s fine, there’s no ethical considerations. So there’s no shortage of supply. Secondly, it has so much great stuff in it and there’s no rejection reaction when you take Betty’s amniotic fluid and process it and then inject it into John. So here are the top five components.
Number one is that there are a lot of growth factors in amniotic fluid. Well, what exactly is a growth factor? A growth factor is a natural substance that’s produced by the body that helps to promote repair and regeneration of your tissues. And it also signals to other cells to help differentiate and promote repair and regeneration as well. So it does it itself, but it also recruits some friends to help out. There are about 70 to 80 growth factors in amniotic fluid that help with all of this repair and regeneration, which is very helpful for not only the baby, that it’s around, but also when it gets harvested and processed and injected into those who need it for say knee arthritis, it’s very effective as well.
The second component that’s very important of amniotic fluid is hyaluronic acid. Now hyaluronic acid is a substance that is extremely prevalent throughout our bodies, it’s a medical carbohydrate that is in liquid form that helps to lubricate, cushion and protect your joints. And also your eye. And it’s also in cartilage. And it’s also in some other tissues. But basically we talk about it in the knee joint for example, it’s like the motor oil of your knee joint. Okay, so when it comes from the amniotic fluid, and injected it’s just another beneficial effect of a substance going in. It’s also the main substance in something like Synvisc or Hyalgan, treatment known as viscose supplementation.
The next component of amniotic fluid is something called cytokines. Cytokines are small proteins that are released by cells that are great communicators. They don’t do a lot by themselves, but they basically communicate between other cells in the body to create the interaction that’s going to promote repair and regeneration. So some people use the term growth factor and cytokine interchangeably. There are differences between them. But keep in mind that cytokines there’s a ton of them in amniotic fluid and they have very fancy names, like vegeff and TNF. But what they do is they communicate between other cells. So for instance if you inject them into a knee joint, there going to help communicate between cells and help recruit cells from around the body to come and help repair and regenerate the damage in your knee.
Now the fourth component of amniotic fluid are anti-microbial factors. Now there’s no need to go through the specific scientific names of them but think about it like this, when the amniotic fluid surrounds the baby, it does a lot of different functions. But one of them, it helps prevent infection from occurring in the baby. All right, so when you inject it into the knee or elbow or whatnot, it has some of the same effect by helping to prevent infection. And that’s very helpful because the rate of infection with an amniotic fluid injection is really, really, really low. It’s not negligible, but it’s really low.
The fifth component of amniotic fluid and I saved the best for last, are stem cells. What exactly is a stem cell? A stem cell is a blank slate. It’s a master cell of the human body that has the ability to differentiate into most of the 200 or so different cell types in the human body. Now there’s different types of stem cells. One is embryonic. An embryonic cell can differentiate into any type of the human body. The problem with embryonic is that it often doesn’t know when to stop. So studies in the past have looked at embryonic cells, for instance in baboons, they put them into the discs of baboons, looking at disc degeneration. The problem is a lot of those baboons developed tumors.
So they stopped the study and embryonic cells are not used, they’re not present in amniotic fluid. What’s present in amniotic fluid are what’s called pluripotent stem cells and those cells are able to differentiate into most of the different cell types in the human body and all of the ones that are pertinent to what it’s being used for commercially, such as cartilage, skin, bone, muscle, tendon, ligament, da da da da da. So it’s very, very effective. It’s also able to differentiate into the cells that are important in kidney, lung, liver, and on down with organs. Cardiac. So there’s a lot of usage going on systemically as well as locally with injection.
So those are the top five components of amniotic fluid. One more, actually two more quick points. One is that there’s no rejection of amniotic fluid from one individual to another. I mentioned that but I wanted to point it out one more time because we get that question all the time. The second point is that a lot of people think that when you undergo a regenerative medicine procedure that it’s the stem cells doing, carrying the heavy load, doing the heavy lifting with the repair and regeneration. That is actually only partially true. What’s really doing most of the work are the growth factors. Growth factors are the ones that are pulling in the body’s own stem cells and then also directly mitigating the repair and the regeneration. So the stem cells are only part of the equation, keep that in mind.