Recently there has been a rapid development of regenerative medicine. This area is largely associated with the use of multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MMSCs), which have unique properties. In particular, MMSCs are able to proliferate (develop) into cells of bone, adipose, nervous, cartilage, and muscle tissue. They are also able to form capillary-like structures. With targeted administration, these cells can stimulate regeneration processes, which leads to improved function of the damaged tissues.
Such cells that are used in the treatment of various diseases divides into two types: autologous (own stromal cells mostly cultivated from bone marrow or adipose tissue) or allogeneic (donated, for example, placenta cells).
One of the main sources of biomaterial for allogeneic cell products is donated human placenta. The placenta is an organ that is formed in the fetal egg during pregnancy in order to ensure the normal development and functioning of the fetus over the intrauterine period. Once the baby is born, the placenta is no longer needed and it comes out of the uterus shortly after the birth as the end of its mission. Then it may be cryopreserved (long-term preservation in low-temperature) in pieces to subsequently treat some diseases and improve someone’s health.
What is an advantage of allogeneic placenta-tissue derived stem cells over MMSC’s derived from bone marrow or from adipose tissue?
From the comparative analysis, it has been concluded that stem cells sourced from placentas have a higher potential for reproduction (which is important in the preparation of therapeutic doses of cell products) when compared with stem cells, which are extracted from other sources.
Research has established the unique properties of placental MMSCs, reliably confirming their greater efficiency and potency compared to MMSCs isolated from other sources. For instance, the proliferative capacity of each placenta cell constitutes almost twice the proliferative rate of bone marrow and adipose tissue cells.
Taking into account the size and histological structure of the human placenta, the amount of MMSCs that can be isolated from it is also much higher. As a result, the total time and amount of required manipulations to the cells are reduced, thus mitigating all the risks associated with in vitro cultivation.
MMSCs also, regardless of their source, have immunomodulatory and immunosuppressive properties. That is why this type of cell is widely used for the treatment of autoimmune responses. Latest placenta stem cell research established that placenta-derived MMSCs have stronger immunomodulatory properties (based on the comparative analysis).
Yet another important advantage of using these specific placenta cells is a possibility to require immediate cell therapy for some patients in severe condition or patients with a fast disease progression, which cannot be postponed for the period necessary for the preparation as an autologous product.
Moreover, allogeneic cell products can be used in various other situations, where the possibility of bone marrow or adipose tissue invasive retrieval is eliminated because of:
- the existence of contraindications for anesthesia;
- high risk of bleeding;
- chronic blood-thinning medication usage;
- the presence of a pathological process in the anatomical area planned for sampling.
Sometimes it is impossible to harvest the required minimum amount of biomaterial for cell isolation or to obtain a sufficient amount of cells from lipoaspirate, for example, from thin patients with little subcutaneous fat or immediately after the use of lipolytic (fat-reducing) drugs.
Similarly, patients with hematologic diseases and those who underwent long-term hormonal, immunosuppressive or antibiotic therapy will not have the option for the harvest of bone marrow to prepare cell material because of possible damage to bone marrow cells.
In general, MMSCs retrieved from healthy individuals have proven higher therapeutic potential and can be used as allogeneic cells. In particular, placenta-tissue derived stromal cells are the “youngest” and therefore the most potent cells which can be retrieved during the postnatal period of a human.
Speaking about the benefits of different sources of stem cells, placenta-derived MMSCs are the most promising type of cells for therapy due to all these qualities.
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How do placenta stem cells work?
After getting into the body, the stem cells themselves “find” breakdowns (affected tissues) and fix it by activating local renewal and regeneration processes. When used as a cell-based product, MMSCs can repair damaged tissue through paracrine regulation and direct impact on surrounding cells.
Thus, the positive effect of treatment using these cells occurs without the need for medical drugs that cause side effects or have contraindications, as well as without the need for surgery, which may be unwanted or inapplicable both because of the age or condition of the patient and for other rational reasons.
What diseases can be treated with placenta cells?
Universal therapeutic properties of stem cells allow them to be used for treatment and recovery related to many diseases associated with tissue damage, such as digestive system disorders, endocrinological (esp. diabetes), rheumatic and heart diseases, asthma, allergies, wide scope of neurological diseases (Alzheimer disease, autism, cerebral palsy, inclusion body myositis, multiple sclerosis, dementia, neuropathy, encephalopathy, etc.) and others.
Cell products derived from the placenta can also be effectively used in programs of total rejuvenation and general health recovery.
How is the procedure of the placental stem cell treatment carried out?
Until the moment of treatment, the biomaterial that was previously subjected to cryopreservation (freezing with liquid nitrogen) is stored in a specialized bank. As needed, the cells are thawed and cultivated to reach the therapeutic dose. After the cell product is prepared, it is transplanted to the patient – intravenously, intramuscularly or directly into the affected area.
Ready-made cell products based on placenta-tissue derived stem cells are obtained by a non-invasive method and can be utilised immediately by medical indications. For the patient, there is no need for a long and painful procedure to harvest a portion of their own cells for cultivating.
The recovery period after the procedure of stem cell introduction is minimal. Most often, the patient immediately returns to their usual way of life. In rare cases, the body reacts to the procedure which results in a fever. Either during or after the procedure, the fever passes on its own without consequences to the patient.
How safe is it to use MMSCs from a placenta? Risks and side effects.
Placenta cells meet all criteria for multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells, according to the newest requirements from The International Society for Cell Therapy.
MMSCs are also an immune-privileged type of cell. This means that these cells can stay more or less “invisible” to the immune system and they are highly biocompatible even in the case of allogeneic material without risk of rejection. And although these are female stem cells, they are relevant to both genders.
Before using, biological cell material is checked for compliance with several indicators, including:
- sufficient percentage of viable cells;
- the purity against DNA viruses;
- and sterility against bacteria and microscopic fungi.
Ethical questions about using placenta stromal cells. Who is the donor?
Many women during pregnancy will voluntarily and consciously make the choice to donate their placenta for stem cell research after giving birth. They sign an Informed Consent form that prescribes the use of the placenta for scientific purposes and does not exclude its use to assist patients with various diseases. Thus, the placenta provides medical benefits beyond its original function.
Placental multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells are the best alternative to embryonic stem cells, as the use of the latter suffers from bioethical issues. Placental stem cells are not obtained during pregnancy and are not related to its interruption. Sampling is performed in the postnatal period (after the birth of a child) when the organ has already completed its functions, otherwise, it would be disposed of as biomedical waste. No one woman gets money for donating their placenta for stem cell research, meaning there isn’t a black market for placentas.
Thus, sampling and using placenta-tissue derived stem cell products is absolutely harmless and safe for the donor. It is also fully legal, acknowledging all legislation in the countries it is practiced.
How to get treatment based on placental stem cells?
It is important to understand that stem cell treatment is only part of the complex therapy that we perform. According to the patient’s current medical needs, this treatment may include preparatory procedures and post-treatment stages of rehabilitation, such as physiotherapy, dry needling, laser or ultraviolet blood stimulation, mesodiencephalic modulation, xenon gas inhalations, etc.
We make a personal treatment program according to the needs of the patient in order to achieve maximum results. Depending on the disease and its severity, the treatment can lead to remission, to stopping all progress of the disease, and to steady improvement.
Before making a decision, you can first get an online consultation from our Medical Advisor:
- To learn whether and which therapy will work for your ailment;
- To get full information about our programs.
We do not prescribe placental stem cell therapy to everyone. We can only advise a reasonable program based on cell products in the event that we assume the possibility of improvement depending on the disease and its features. And we are ready to discuss your wishes and expectations about therapy.
Get a free online consultation
Contact us to learn whether stem cell therapy would work for you, and what results are expected.
List of References
Heterogeneity of proangiogenic features in mesenchymal stem cells derived from bone marrow, adipose tissue, umbilical cord, and placenta. Du WJ1, Chi Y1, Yang ZX1, Li ZJ2, Cui JJ1, Song BQ1, Li X1, Yang SG1, Han ZB3, Han ZC4,5.
Portmann-Lanz CB, Schoeberlein A, Huber A, Sager R, Malek A, Holzgreve W, Surbek DV. Placental mesenchymal stem cells as a potential autologous graft for pre- and perinatal neuroregeneration. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2006;194(3):664-73.
Immunomodulatory properties of human placental mesenchymal stem/stromal cells. Placenta. Abumaree MH, Abomaray FM, Alshabibi MA, AlAskar AS, Kalionis B. 2017.;59:87-95.
Interleukin 1 receptor antagonist mediates the anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic effect of mesenchymal stem cells during lung injury. Ortiz LA1, Dutreil M, Fattman C, Pandey AC, Torres G, Go K, Phinney DG.
Horwitz E.M., Le Blanc K., Dominici M. et al. Clarification of the nomenclature for MSC: The International Society for Cellular Therapy position statement. Cytotherapy. 2005;7(5):393-5.
Medical Advisor, Swiss Medica doctor