Regenerative Medicine and Anti-Aging: Definitions Are Important


A recently released study out of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is causing some in the regenerative medicine field to rethink how adult stem cells can be used in anti-aging treatments. The study seems to indicate that certain kinds of stem cells are more effective for anti-aging treatments than others. The study also reminds us how important definitions are.

A doctor with experience in PRP (platelet-rich plasma) and stem cell therapies would read the study and fully understand terms like ‘anti-aging’ and ‘aging-related diseases’. Consumers without any formal medical training may not be so fortunate. They can misunderstand the terms being used because definitions are unclear. And unfortunately, such misunderstandings can lead to patient disappointment when they realize the results they were hoping for with PRP or stem cell procedures will not be achieved.

Basics of the Study

Before getting to the definition of terms, it might be wise to look at the basics of the study itself. A team of researchers led by Dr. Ivona Percec examined the normal aging process of adipose derived stem cells taken from human fat tissue to see whether they have any potential for anti-aging treatments. The team found that not only do the cells have such potential, but they might also be more effective for anti-aging treatments than the stem cells currently harvested for anti-aging procedures.

“Our study shows these cells are very robust, even when they are collected from older patients,” Percec said. “It also shows these cells can be potentially used safely in the future because they require minimal manipulation and maintenance.”

Researchers went on to demonstrate what appears to be the ability of the stem cells to continue to multiply at a consistent rate despite the age of the donor. This implies the cells are more stable and potentially more helpful for anti-aging treatments – and that leads us to the definition of terms.

Anti-Aging and Aging Related Diseases

The clinical definition of an anti-aging treatment is one that is designed to prevent the appearance of aging. It is not one that reverses or stops the aging process altogether. This is a very important distinction. Whether intentionally or ignorantly, regenerative medicine practitioners can lead their patients to believe that some of their aesthetic procedures either reverse the aging process or stop it entirely. Regenerative medicine does neither.

According to Apex Biologix, a Utah company that trains doctors in stem cell in PRP therapies, preventing the appearance of aging is a far cry from actually reversing or stopping. Indeed, there is no possible way to stop the aging process without stopping time itself. PRP and stem cell therapies for anti-aging applications are meant only to improve one’s appearance by encouraging the body to be better at what it already does naturally.

As far as aging related diseases are concerned, we are talking about things like osteoarthritis, cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and various forms of dementia. At the current time, regenerative medicine appears to be most helpful in the area of orthopedic diseases like osteoarthritis. Research continues into ways we might be able to utilize stem cell therapy for other aging related diseases in the future, but there are no solid treatments in use right now.

It is important that regenerative medicine practitioners and the industry as a whole educate consumers about the correct definition of terms. It’s equally important that patients are not misled regarding the efficacy of PRP and stem cell therapies. These show great promise, but they are not a miracle cures or something that can reverse the aging process.



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Jenine Henry

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