Regenerative medicine combines principles of biology and engineering to develop therapies for diseases characterized by cell depletion, lost tissue, or damaged organs. The broad aim of regenerative medicine is to engineer, regenerate, or replace tissue using natural growth and repair mechanisms, such as stem cells. Regenerative medicine is a way to fix the root causes of disease by harnessing the body’s natural capacity to repair itself – in other words, to regenerate lost cells and tissue and restore normal functioning. Ultimately, the goal of regenerative medicine is to improve the daily wellbeing of patients with debilitating chronic diseases by developing a new generation of therapies that go beyond treating symptoms.
PLATELET RICH PLASMA
Platelets are small fragments of cells called megakaryocytes, which are found in hemopoietic red bone marrow. Platelets are activated in response to tissue injury leading to their release of hundreds of growth factors and other healing elements and chemicals, such as cytokines and chemokines. Platelets are commonly spoke of in relation to their function in blood clotting, though they actually have more diverse roles in tissue healing, beyond just clotting. They play a role in angiogenesis (new blood vessel formation), inflammation and subsequent activation of immune system cells, vasoconstriction (constriction of blood vessels), and tissue regeneration through the enhancement of fibroblast function (increased collagen and other extracellular matrix components production).
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a concentrate of platelets and plasma made in-office from a patient’s own blood. Drawn blood is processed through a special centrifuge (the Arthrex Angel system) that utilizes 3-sensor technology to prepare customized PRP formulations. The Angel system has the capability to deliver platelet concentrations up to 18x baseline with adjustable white blood cell concentrations. The Angel system utilizes the principle of flow cytometry, or light absorption by cells, to achieve precise separation with reproducible results.
PRP has been widely used as a safe and novel treatment in dentistry, orthopedics, ophthalmology, neurosurgery, and cosmetic surgery for three decades. PRP is well tolerated, it very rarely leads to complications, it is easy to prepare and administer, and it is less aggressive than other therapeutic options that might be indicated for some patients, such as steroid injection or even surgery. In fact, with respect to musculoskeletal inflammatory conditions, PRP has been shown to have better long-term outcomes than steroid injection.
PRP has been demonstrated to benefit patients with symptomatic tendinopathies, knee lesions, surgical meniscus repairs, plantar fasciitis, hip osteoarthritis, and lateral elbow epicondylitis, among others, making it a great option for use in musculoskeletal system conditions.