Stem cells are found throughout the body and specifically mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are specialized cells that have shown to have anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and regenerative properties. They are also known to have anti-scarring, anti-microbial and anti-oxidative effects. These cells can migrate to different areas of the body and respond to injured or inflamed areas by communicating with other cells and tissues and stimulate change through the secretion of proteins and extracellular vesicles (EVs) called exosomes. The paracrine effect of secreted bioactive molecules is how it activates pathways and stimulates change.

Because of the dynamic properties of MSCs, researchers worldwide have been investigating the use of stem cells since the 1960’s. Promising findings through research for many different health problems has fueled more interest and funding for additional clinical studies to find ways to utilize the unique properties of stem cells as medical treatments.

Over the last decade, over 1,000 human clinical research trials involving close to 50,000 patients evaluating stem cell use have been documented worldwide demonstrating its safety profile and promising results. Applications of stem cells have mainly focused on people who are suffering from difficult wounds, physical ailments, and diseases that are often inadequately addressed with conventional medicine including pharmaceutical drugs and surgery. But in recent times, increased interest has grown to utilize stem cells for other health improvements ranging from skincare and aesthetics to healthspan and longevity.

Stem cells used in clinical trials are typically obtained from adipose (fat), bone marrow, amnion or umbilical cord Wharton’s jelly. Embryonic stem cells are not used due to the ethical issues associated with the use of live embryos. The stem cells are either used in its original state during procurement or they can be culture-expanded to much larger quantities of cells not normally found in the body. Clinical stem cell research continues for a variety of health conditions.

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