Author: Tim Bert, M.D.
“Pluripotency, Multipotency, Embryonic, Amniotic…”
What They Mean & Why Patients Should Care
“Stem cell therapy” is a health care topic that’s the source of controversy, confusion, excitement and much hope. However, few people truly understand just what exactly is meant by “stem cell therapy.” Part of the problem is that researchers, physicians and advocates may be talking about different types of stem cell injections, which can confuse patients who are new to the conversation. Two of the most frequently discussed types of stem cell therapies are “amniotic stem cells” and “embryonic stem cells.”
Stem Cell Therapy: Understanding The Terms
You can read this blog post I wrote in June to gain a basic understanding of the difference between the two. If you want the quick summary:
- Embryonic stem cells are derived from a human embryo. They are pluripotent, which means they have the potential to turn into any kind of cell in the human body.
- Amniotic stem cells are derived from amniotic fluid during the C-section of a healthy pregnancy. These cells are multipotent, meaning they have the ability to turn into a few different kinds of cells.
Is One Type of Stem Cell Better Than the Other?
The answer’s complicated. However, it’s worth learning about for patients who want the best stem cell therapy options available.
While the use of amniotic stem cells is making huge strides in the field of regenerative medicine – being used to treat tissue voids and defects, as well as localized areas of inflammation – these cells are somewhat limited in what they can do (when compared to embryonic stem cells). After all, multipotent cells don’t have the same potentiality as pluripotent cells.
For now, amniotic stem cell therapy is the only type of stem cell therapy available in the U.S. Researchers and physicians are excited that amniotic stem cells (which are available in Phoenix, Mesa & Tempe at Hedley Ortho) may be demonstrated to be pluripotent, which would exponentially open up possibilities for their use outside of sports medicine, injury and inflammation. Recent studies, such as this one from the Imperial College of London, suggest that this possibility may not be too far off.
Amniotic stem cells, which are safer and more easily obtained than embryonic stem cells, could be the way of the future. Time will tell if researchers efforts come to fruition and make the possibility of pluripotency mainstream.
Are You a Candidate for Stem Cell Injections? Schedule An Appointment
Are you interested in learning more about stem cell injections for knee pain, tendonitis, and other conditions? Contact Hedley Orthopaedic Institute to schedule your appointment with a sports medicine provider in Phoenix, Mesa or Tempe. You can also schedule your appointment online to have your injury or pain evaluated.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.