Is MSC a Viable Therapeutic Option for Pain Relief?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common and leading causes of disability and pain in the world. With an increasingly aging population, its prevalence in the future is expected to increase dramatically. Medical treatment strategies currently in use are primarily aimed at controlling the pain symptoms rather than modifying the disease. Surgical procedures are also used for permanently treating the pain, such as joint replacement. However, these approaches have not been very popular and are more invasive than therapeutic options. This is where mesenchymal stem cell therapy shines the most.
MSC, in the beginning, was used only for regenerative aims due to its differentiation competence, but after several in-depth studies, MSC has been found to reduce pain and help patients regain joint mobility. The degeneration of cartilage causes movement limitation in the joint. Other reasons may include damaging of synovial membrane or other joint components. Depend on the severity of the condition, various medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, glucosamine, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), or intra-articular injection of hyaluronic acid are applied.
However, the irreversible damage of the cartilage remains one of the biggest challenges in the treatment of pain relief, especially in OA. However, tissue engineering is considered to be a promising and innovative therapy for pain relief. Out of all the cell therapies, mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy appears to hold promise. The therapy has the ability to differentiate different types of cells, including adipose, cartilage, and bone cells. Additionally, MSCs are immunoprivileged owing to their low immunogenicity.
MSC also exerts a potent anti-inflammatory effect, which has recently begun to be exploited in various fields. MSC produces the anti-inflammatory protein TSG-6, which has been reported to suppress the excessive inflammatory reaction occurring at ischemic sites in the myocardium, thereby exerting a myocardium-preserving effect. Although the postoperative results of artificial joints have been improving in relatively young persons, their durability is still problematic, with multiple surgeries including revision often becoming necessary at comparatively young ages.
Ichiseki, T., Shimasaki, M., Ueda, Y., Ueda, S., Tsuchiya, M., Souma, D., Kaneuji, A. and Kawahara, N., 2018. Intraarticularly-injected mesenchymal stem cells stimulate anti-inflammatory molecules and inhibit pain related protein and chondrolytic enzymes in a monoiodoacetate-induced rat arthritis model. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(1), p.203.
Ichiseki, T., Ueda, S., Souma, D., Shimasaki, M., Ueda, Y. and Kawahara, N., 2019. Intraarticularly Injected Mesenchymal Stem Cells Stimulate Anti-Inflammatory Molecules and Inhibit Pain and Chondrolytic Enzymes in a Rat Model of Arthritis. Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, 28(11), p.e389.
Surgery should always be treated as a final option, an extreme solution when there aren’t any others left. Thanks to modern science, we now have medical solutions that are less extreme and more effective. Because surgery is unnatural, your immune system can take time to adjust to surgical changes such as metal rods and bolts or microchips. Surgery can have short-term negative side effects such as inflammation or swelling, but it can also have long-term drawbacks, physically and mentally. In most cases, recovering from surgeries can take time
For instance, stem cell therapy is quite effective in treating knee osteoarthritis. It is more effective than surgery because rather than replacing damaged cells, it helps them regenerate. Compared to surgery, the human body responds better to stem cells and the regenerative process. People who undergo stem cell therapy even regain their range of motion faster than patients of the surgery.
In addition to knee osteoarthritis, stem cell therapy can also be used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Scientific studies suggest that human endometrium-derived stem cells have contributed significantly to counter the progression of PD. Moreover, it also creates a therapeutic impact on the patients.
Stem cell therapy might not be cheap, but surgery can often be far more expensive. Surgeries come with long periods of recovery, during which you’ll only lose more money. The potential lifelong health issues that come with surgeries will cause you to bleed money for years to come. In the long run, stem cell research will save you money.
Neither surgery nor Stem Cell therapy should be taken lightly. Weigh your options carefully, and consult your doctors before committing to any one form of treatment. You don’t want to do anything that could leave you with lifelong health issues or debt.
Zhao L, Kaye AD, Abd-Elsayed A. Stem Cells for the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis: A Comprehensive Review. Pain Physician. 2018 May;21(3):229-242. PMID: 29871367.
Bagheri‐Mohammadi S, Karimian M, Alani B, Verdi J, Tehrani RM, Noureddini M. Stem cell‐based therapy for Parkinson’s disease with a focus on human endometrium‐derived mesenchymal stem cells. J Cell Physiol. 2018;234:1326–1335. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcp.27182.