An insight into how stem cells and regenerative therapies are transforming the way we heal.
By Mike Sarraille and Jason Boulay
Whether you're a professional athlete or just trying to stay in shape, you know the impact even a minor injury can have on an active lifestyle. You've probably heard of stem cell therapy; It has made headlines as recent breakthroughs have made it a game changer in the ever-evolving world of medicine. Daily news reports of top athletes regaining speed, focus and agility after traveling abroad for treatment.
I traveled to the Cellular Performance Institute (CPI) in Tijuana, Mexico to find out what all the fuss is about and to receive a round of stem cell therapy myself. The day after my treatment, I sat down with CPI founders Ed Clay and Scott Nelson for an episode of the Everyday Warrior Podcast. Before we watch this incredibly insightful interview, let's take a look at the science behind stem cell therapy, its potential applications, and my experience at the institute.
What is stem cell therapy?
Stem cells are the building block of the human body, and more and more people have discovered their benefits in repairing damaged, diseased, or dysfunctional tissue. Unlike other cells, stem cells have the unique ability to form many cell types. In the right environment, stem cells divide and form daughter cells, which can differentiate into blood, brain and bone cells, among other things.
There are three main types of stem cells: somatic stem cells, which come from bone marrow, fat and blood; pluripotent stem cells derived from three to five day old embryos; and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), derived from the umbilical cord after a successful birth.
At CPI, they only use ethically sourced MSCs because they are readily available, safe, and collected without harming the mother or baby. They do not carry the moral implications of pluripotent stem cells, and since they have yet to differentiate into specific cell types, they are valuable for medical treatments.
"We're moving into clinical trials for a stem cell that can make heart, liver, and kidney cells," Clay explains. "There is real potential to translate this research into something useful for the world," he adds. As a leader in regenerative medicine, CPI is a leader in using stem cells to improve the health and well-being of people worldwide.
What are stem cells used for?
Over the past decade, advances in stem cell research have helped revolutionize medicine and offer a viable alternative to surgery for conditions like torn tendons and ligaments, joint pain, and even chronic conditions like neurodegenerative diseases. When grown and injected into injured parts of the body, stem cells have shown a remarkable ability to repair cartilage, bone, and muscle fibers faster than traditional methods.
Clinics worldwide are also reporting impressive results using these minimally invasive procedures to repair cruciate ligament tears and treat various injuries and conditions including shoulder, elbow, ankle, knee and hip pain; arthritis and tendinitis; chronic pain; and soft tissue injuries.
Stem cells are also gaining attention in the treatment of disc degeneration and offer a new approach to treating one of the most common causes of back pain. Intervertebral discs are the cushions that separate the bones in the spine, and they can become damaged over time due to injury, age, or other factors. When this happens, the discs can degenerate, which can lead to various problems, including chronic back pain, sciatica, and nerve damage. While traditional treatments include medication, physical therapy, and surgery, they often provide only temporary relief and have significant side effects.
“I wish I had tried stem cells before having back surgery,” says Nelson. “An operation is traumatic; after that I had to lie flat on my back for eight months and now I have a huge scar.
Still suffering from pain in the years following the surgery, Nelson had stem cells injected into three discs. Within days the pain went away. "It was the first time in 12 years that I hadn't had nerve pain, and it just kept getting better," he says.
Regenerative and transplantation therapies using stem cells are also a significant advance for those struggling with neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's. Until recently, most of the impairments caused by these diseases were considered untreatable, and doctors only treated the symptoms. However, stem cell therapy has shown great promise in combating neurodegeneration and offers a glimmer of hope to those affected by these debilitating conditions.
Another use for stem cells offers new hope to patients with few other options. In bone marrow diseases, stem cell therapy replaces damaged or diseased bone marrow with healthy cells; this helps restore the production of blood cells and improve the patient's overall health.
Stem cell therapy may also have the potential to help patients recover from the toxic effects of radiation and chemotherapy. While these traditional treatments destroy cancer cells, they also destroy healthy cells, causing a range of side effects including fatigue, infection, and a weakened immune system. Stem cell therapy has helped patients recover from side effects and in some cases even improved the effectiveness of cancer treatments.
While many patients undergo autologous stem cell transplantation, a therapy that uses stem cells from the patient's bone marrow, researchers are exploring allogeneic stem cell transplantation. This process uses stem cells from donors, not patients, and may be a breakthrough in treating certain types of cancer, including leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
These treatments offer hope for fighting cancer, reversing the effects of aging and improving heart health. With continued research, stem cell therapy has the potential to revolutionize the way we treat injuries and perhaps one day help us find cures for mankind's most devastating diseases.
All about research
Nestled in the heart of Mexico, CPI stands as a testament to the human spirit's relentless pursuit of progress and has become a mecca for stem cell researchers, attracting the brightest minds from around the world to collaborate and advance the field.
The CPI team is passionate about science and committed to proving the efficacy, safety and feasibility of stem cell therapy. In a landscape where profit often takes precedence over progress, the institute has chosen a different approach: collecting data, analyzing results and developing convincing arguments for the acceptance of stem cell therapy as conventional medicine. "We will publish our results next year," explains Clay. Because they must have a large enough dataset to demonstrate causality and invite peer review, CPI is "offering patients an opportunity to return three months after their treatment for 30 million free stem cells and an MRI scan."
Thanks to the supportive environment in Mexico, CPI continues to make rapid strides in this area, pushing the boundaries of what is possible. The team agrees that the scientific community needs to be cautious about new medical treatments, but is increasingly optimistic that the world will soon embrace stem cell therapy.
"2023 will be a breakthrough year for us," says Clay. "We are entering a clinical trial model of induced pluripotent stem cells and submitting some of our therapies to the FDA for approval," he added.
What makes CPI different?
Amid an increasingly crowded industry, CPI differentiates itself with its unique approach to medical treatment. It is not a clinic but a full-fledged hospital regulated and licensed by COFREPRIS and its team offers cutting-edge cell therapies for various health problems. CPI uses stem cells not only for orthopedic treatments, but also to fight cancer and autoimmune diseases.
The effectiveness of the therapy depends on the potency, purity and quantity of the cells. The institute maintains tight control over the process, using its in-house manufacturing facility to create billions of therapeutic cells with potent anti-inflammatory properties. This environment ensures the team produces only strong, medicinal cells that can survive harsh conditions in diseased or damaged tissue.
These stem cells are carefully isolated from umbilical cord tissue using a scientific process known as centrifugation. They also use the latest MRI imaging, C-arm fluoroscopy and ultrasound guidance to ensure their doctors deliver treatments with unparalleled precision. This dramatically expands the range of medical conditions they can treat. As a leader in this field, CPI is paving the way for a new era of medical advancement.
Within moments of meeting Ed, Scott and the entire team, they no doubt took pride in helping patients regain their quality of life. I spent five days in Mexico between the treatment and the recording of the podcast. During this time I was very impressed with the care and attention of the staff - it was like having the ultimate medical concierges.
Your highly skilled medical team took a comprehensive approach to my treatment. After reviewing my medical history and MRI images, they discussed my desired treatment outcomes in order to develop a therapeutic strategy tailored to my needs. Their experienced physicians and medical staff have carefully considered all relevant factors in developing a treatment plan optimized for maximum effectiveness.
During my Wednesday morning appointment, the doctor injected stem cells into my right hip, knee and shoulder. They performed the procedure with precision and professionalism, and it went far more smoothly than I expected. While I was experiencing discomfort from joint pressure that night, the team was responsive and effectively managed my pain. Less than 24 hours after my treatment I started to feel the positive effects and all the discomfort from the previous night was gone.
A few months have passed since that trip to Tijuana. netheless, I am so impressed with the care and results that I will certainly return for future treatments. During the podcast, Nelson says most patients learn about the Institute through word of mouth; That makes perfect sense as I would recommend CPI to friends, family and anyone looking to improve their quality of life.
The Talking Series is a weekly segment that digs deeper into topics discussed by guests on the Men's Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast.