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Stem Cell Therapies and Tendon Repair

Tendon and ligament injuries are one of the most common orthopedic conditions resulting from overuse, sports injuries, or aging. Over 30 million cases of tendon and ligament injuries are recorded yearly. Current treatment options for these injuries often fail to heal or regenerate damaged tendons,which is why stem cell therapy for tendon injury is a game-changer.

Stem cells are unspecialized body cells that can be found in all human beings. These cells, when turned into specialized cells, can possess anti-inflammatory and regenerative abilities that help repair damaged and inflamed tendons and ligaments. The use of stem cells for tendon repair has the shortest recovery time as compared to other traditional approaches and does not require surgery.

In this article, we will discuss stem cell-based approaches for tendon repair, the benefits of stem therapies, treatment programs, and the cost of stem cell therapy for tendon repair.

Stem Cell Therapies and Tendon Repair
Stem cell treatment for tendon repair

Stem Cell-based Approaches for Tendon Repair

The application of stem cells in tendon therapy has demonstrated significant progress in treating orthopedic injuries. Strategies being used for tendon repair involve:

Mesenchymal Stem Cells

MSCs are multipotent stem cells that can be harvested from bone marrow, adipose, or other tissues. These cells are directly injected into the tendon or applied via scaffolds that provide structural support and optimal cell delivery to the site of injury.

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Induced Pluripotent Stem cells (iPSCs) are differentiated into specialized tendon cells before transplantation into the injured tendon. This method is still experimental but holds great potential in healing injuries.

Stem Cell-Derived Extracellular Vesicles

In this stem cell therapy for the Achilles tendon, small vesicles known as EVs are injected to harness their regenerative properties without the complexity of stem cell therapy.

Growth Factor That Enriches Stem Cell Therapy

Many growth factors, such as platelet-derived growth factors (PDGF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), are used in conjunction with stem cells to stimulate tendon or ligament healing and improve the strength of the repaired tendons.

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Stem Cell Therapies and Tendon Repair
Dr. Aleksandra Fetyukhina, MD

Medical Advisor, Swiss Medica doctor


Benefits of Stem Cell-Based Therapeutic Approaches for Tendon Repair

Stem cell therapy for tendon injury offers plenty of benefits, for both short and long-term, such as:

  1. Stem cell therapy enhances healing by allowing tissue regeneration. These cells differentiate into tenocytes and maintain the structural integrity of the original tendon.
  2. Stem cell therapy promotes healing by reducing inflammation and relieving pain during recovery.
  3. Stem cell therapy harnesses the power of growth factors that carry regenerative signals to the injured site and facilitate repair without direct integration of the stem cells.
  4. Stem cell therapy for tendonitis is a minimally invasive procedure with the least chance of fibrosis. It also speeds up the healing process and enhances tendon functions.
  5. Stem cell therapy is more of an individualized treatment plan that offers a reduced risk of immune rejection and better chances of healing.
  6. Stem cell therapies are minimally invasive and can be delivered via injection, leading to fast recovery and fewer complications.
  7. Stem cell therapy targets the underlying cause of injury, thus leading to long-term improvements in tendon functions and reduced risk of re-injury.
Stem Cell Therapies and Tendon Repair
List of orthopedic issues treated by stem cells

What Does the Stem Cell Tendon Repair Program Include? 

Stem cell therapy for tendon repair is based on the use of stem cells to promote healing and regeneration. The treatment program usually involves the following steps:

Medical History and Testing

Before accepting the patient for therapy, the patient’s anamnesis and the results of other medical tests are always considered. These results are then studied by an internal panel of doctors to decide whether it is possible to treat the patient or not.

Patient Evaluation and Diagnosis

This stage requires a detailed physical examination of the injury and assessment of an MRI scan submitted by the patient. It is necessary for assessing the extent and nature of the tendon damage. 

Pretreatment

We provide suggestions such as adopting a healthy lifestyle and undergoing necessary therapies to achieve a successful outcome in stem cell treatment for tendon repair. Also, after evaluation, the final plan, including the type of cells to use and the procedures, is decided.

Stem Cell Harvesting 

Once the decision to use autologous stem cells is made, they are harvested from the patient, then processed and purified in the laboratory.

Stem Cell Solution

After harvesting, stem cells are separated from other cell products via cutting-edge technology to obtain a concentrated solution of stem cells. Sometimes this solution can be mixed with platelet-rich plasma to maximize the benefits of the therapy.

Photoactivation

Stem cells are then photoactivated to harness their healing properties.

Process Of Injection

Once activated, stem cells are carefully injected into the affected tendon using image guidance for precision. 

Post-Treatment Rehabilitation

Each patient undergoes an individualized rehabilitation program to support healing and improve functions. This step also involves close monitoring of the patient and periodic follow-ups to assess the healing and treatment’s progress.

Follow-Ups and Evaluation

After the patient is discharged, regular follow-up visits are conducted to monitor healing and evaluate the efficacy of Achilles tendon stem cell injection.

Cost of Stem Cell Therapy for Tendon Repair

The cost of therapy with stem cells for ligament repair depends upon several factors:

  • The type of stem cells, such as autologous or allogenic. The type of stem cells used may result in an increase in the cost due to source and preparation methods.
  • Procedure complexity for extracting stem cells and image guidance.
  • Treatment protocol, as some treatments require multiple injections and other combinational therapies to aid healing
  • Insurance coverage varies from treatment to treatment. As this treatment is experimental, insurance coverage might be less.

Prices for stem cell therapy at Swiss Medica clinic, a leading provider of such therapies, start from 12,000 euros, depending on the specifics of the treatment plan. To best evaluate the treatment cost involved in tendon healing, we advise you to consult with healthcare providers at the Swiss Medica. During a consultation, you can receive a detailed cost analysis and explore financing options.

Contact us

Contact us to learn about the expected results of the treatment, its cost and duration.

Stem Cell Therapies and Tendon Repair
Dr. Aleksandra Fetyukhina, MD

Medical Advisor, Swiss Medica doctor


List of References

  1. Katz, N. P., Paillard, F. C., & Ekman, E. (2015). Determining the clinical importance of treatment benefits for interventions for painful orthopedic conditions. Journal of Orthopedic Surgery and Research, 10(1), 24. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13018-014-0144-x

  2. Gaspar, D., Spanoudes, K., Holladay, C., Pandit, A., & Zeugolis, D. (2015). Progress in cell-based therapies for tendon repair. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, 84, 240–256. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addr.2014.11.023

  3. Carballo, C. B., Lebaschi, A., & Rodeo, S. A. (2017). Cell-based approaches for augmentation of tendon repair. Techniques in Shoulder & Elbow Surgery, 18(3), e6–e14. https://doi.org/10.1097/bte.0000000000000132

  4. Xu, Y., Zhang, W. X., Wang, L. N., Ming, Y. Q., Li, Y. L., & Ni, G. X. (2021). Stem cell therapies in tendon-bone healing. World Journal of Stem Cells, 13(7), 753. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v13.i7.753

  5. Sarmiento, P., & Little, D. (2021). Tendon and multiomics: advantages, advances, and opportunities. Npj Regenerative Medicine, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41536-021-00168-6

  6. Collection and processing of stem cells – Hematology Oncology Associates of Fredericksburg. (2016, December 19). Hematology Oncology Associates of Fredericksburg. https://www.hoafredericksburg.com/collection-and-processing-of-stem-cells/

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