This blog is a way of sharing the information and resources that have helped me to recover my son Roo from an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What I have learned is to view our symptoms as the results of underlying biological cause, which can be identified and healed. I say "our symptoms" because I also have a neuro-immune disorder called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

And, of course, I am not a doctor (although I have been known to impersonate one while doing imaginative play with my son)- this is just our story and information that has been helpful or interesting to us. I hope it is helpful and interesting to you!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Regenerative Medicine

The talk is called Get Your Body to Heal Itself by Anthony Galea, who is a doctor specializing in sports medicine.  When he entered the field 25 years ago there were not many tools available and they had limited success so he began to look for new ways to help bodies to heal, with less dependence on medications, with a faster recovery time, and especially by using the body's own healing mechanisms.  He asks the question can our bodies make our own medicine?  Can we become our own pharmaceutical companies?

Those questions are what led to a the new field of medicine called Regenerative Medicine.  There are three basic pillars of this approach, which include 1) messenger or signalling proteins, 2) scaffolding to hold these factors in place if needed, and 3) stem cells.  The messenger proteins are also called growth factors, cytokines, and hormones.  He began by concentrating the platelets from a patient's own blood and then injecting them into the damaged tissue (he explains that platelets are blood cells that help wound healing and produce the messenger proteins).  With this approach he saw recovery in half the time with little scarring and few side effects.  Some injuries require a scaffold to hold the injected platelets in place so that they can heal the wound. In these cases he uses tissue from another part of the patient's body such as fat.

Stem cells are the third major aspect of regenerative medicine.  In addition to being able to become many different body cells, anything from bone to muscle to cartilage to blood vessels, they also produce signalling proteins themselves that direct the repairative process.  Stem cells can be taken from the bone marrow or fat, but can also come from cells called pericytes that exist around our blood vessels.  These pericytes go to sites of injury and protect the area from our body's own defenses (our bodies see the breakdown of protein that goes with wound healing as foreign invaders that need to be attacked) as well as producing chemical signals that direct the healing process.  Dr Caplan of Case Western Reserve University has called these Mesenchymal Stem Cells (or MSCs).  Dr Caplan emphasizes that these cells are more than "just" stem cells, they are also powerful medicinal signalling cells.  He calls this new way to heal "Human Tailored Biologics".