How Stem Cells Are Reshaping Modern Medicine
An inside look at how stem cells and regenerative therapy is changing the way we heal.
By Mike Sarraille and Jason Boulay
Whether you’re a professional athlete or just trying to stay in shape, you know the impact that even a minor injury can have on an active lifestyle. You’ve likely heard of stem cell therapy; it’s been making headlines as recent breakthroughs have caused it to emerge as a game-changer in the ever-evolving world of medicine. Daily news reports cover star athletes who regain speed, focus, and agility after traveling abroad for treatment.
I traveled to the Cellular Performance Institute (CPI) in Tijuana, Mexico, to find out what all the buzz is about and receive a round of stem cell therapy myself. A day after my treatment, I sat down with CPI founders Ed Clay and Scott Nelson for an episode of the Everyday Warrior Podcast. Before watching that incredibly insightful interview, let’s look at the science behind stem cell therapy, its potential uses, and my experience at the Institute.
What Is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cells are the building block of the human body, and a growing number of people have discovered that they’re beneficial in repairing damaged, diseased, or dysfunctional tissue. Unlike other cells, stem cells have the unique ability to create many cell types. In the right environment, stem cells divide and form daughter cells, which can differentiate into blood, brain, and bone cells, among countless others.
There are three primary types of stem cells: somatic stem cells, which come from bone marrow, fat, and blood; pluripotent stem cells, which come from three- to five-day-old embryos; and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which come from umbilical cords after a successful birth.
At CPI, they only use ethically sourced MSCs, as they are readily available, safe, and collected without harm to the mother or baby. They don’t carry the moral implications of pluripotent stem cells, and since they’ve yet to differentiate into specific cell types, they’re valuable for medical treatments.
“We’re moving into clinical trials for a stem cell that can make heart, liver, and kidney cells,” explains Clay. “There’s a real potential of translating this research into something meaningful for the world,” he adds. As a leader in regenerative medicine, CPI is at the forefront of using stem cells to improve the health and well-being of people worldwide.
What Are Stem Cells Used For?
Over the past decade, advancements in stem cell research have helped revolutionize medicine, offering a viable alternative to surgery for issues such as tendon and ligament tears, joint pain, and even chronic conditions like neurodegenerative diseases. When cultivated and injected into injured body parts, stem cells have shown a remarkable ability to repair cartilage, bone, and muscle fiber faster than conventional methods.
Clinics worldwide also report impressive results using these minimally invasive procedures to repair torn ACLs and treat various injuries and conditions, including shoulder, elbow, ankle, knee, and hip pain; arthritis and tendonitis; chronic pain; and soft tissue injuries.
Stem cells are also gaining attention as a treatment for disc degeneration, offering a new approach to treating one of the most common causes of back pain. Discs are the cushions that separate the bones in the spine, and they can become damaged over time due to injury, age, or other factors. When this happens, the discs can start degenerating, leading to various problems, including chronic back pain, sciatica, and nerve damage. While traditional treatments include medication, physical therapy, and surgery, they often only provide temporary relief and have significant side effects.
“I wish I tried stem cells before having back surgery,” says Nelson. “Surgery is traumatic; I had to lie flat on my back for eight months after, and now I have a giant scar. Whereas stem cell therapy is just a couple small injections into your joints.”
Still experiencing pain in the years following the surgery, Nelson had stem cells injected into three discs. Within days the pain dissipated. “It was the first time in 12 years that I was without nerve pain, and it just kept improving,” he says.
Regenerative and transplantation therapies utilizing stem cells are also a significant step forward for those grappling with neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Until recently, most impairments caused by these conditions were considered untreatable, with doctors merely managing symptoms. However, stem cell therapy has shown significant promise in combating neurodegeneration, offering a glimmer of hope for those affected by these debilitating disorders.
Another use for stem cells offers new hope for patients with few other options. In the case of bone marrow disorders, stem cell therapy replaces damaged or diseased bone marrow with healthy cells; this helps restore blood cell production and improve the patient’s overall health.
Stem cell therapy may also have the potential to help patients recover from the toxic effects of radiation and chemotherapy. While these traditional treatments destroy cancer cells, they also destroy healthy cells, which causes a range of side effects, including fatigue, infections, and a weakened immune system. Stem cell therapy has helped patients recover from side effects and, in some cases, even improved the efficacy of the cancer treatment.
While many patients undergo autologous stem cell transplantation, a therapy that uses stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow, researchers are exploring allogeneic stem cell transplantation. This process uses stem cells from donors rather than patients and may be a breakthrough in treating certain types of cancer, including leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.
These treatments provide hope for combating cancer, reversing the effects of aging, and improving heart health. With continued research, stem cell therapy has the potential to revolutionize the way we treat injuries and perhaps one day help us find cures for mankind’s most devastating diseases.
All About Research
Nestled in the heart of Mexico, CPI stands as a testament to the human spirit’s unyielding pursuit of progress and has become a mecca for stem cell researchers, drawing the brightest minds from across the globe to collaborate and advance the field.
The team at CPI has a passion for science and is committed to proving stem cell therapy’s efficacy, safety, and viability. In a landscape where profit often trumps progress, the Institute has taken a different approach: collecting data, analyzing results, and building a compelling case for accepting stem cell therapy as mainstream medicine. “We’re publishing our findings next year,” explains Clay. Since they must have a large enough data set to show causation and invite peer review, CPI is “offering patients the opportunity to return three months after their treatment for 30 million free stem cells and an MRI scan.”
Thanks to the supportive environment in Mexico, CPI continues making rapid strides in the field and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. The team agrees that the scientific community must be cautious regarding emerging medical treatments but are increasingly optimistic that the world will soon embrace stem cell therapy.
“2023 will be a breakthrough year for us,” says Clay. “We’re entering a clinical trial model for induced pluripotent stem cells and submitting some of our therapies to the FDA for approval,” he added.
What Sets CPI Apart?
Amidst an increasingly crowded industry, CPI stands apart with its unique approach to medical treatment. Rather than a clinic, it’s a fully-fledged hospital regulated and approved by COFREPRIS, and its team provides cutting-edge cellular therapies for various health concerns. CPI doesn’t only use stem cells for orthopedic treatments but also to combat cancer and autoimmune disorders.
The therapy’s effectiveness depends on the cells’ potency, purity, and quantity. The Institute retains strict control of the process by using its in-house manufacturing facility to generate billions of therapeutic cells with potent anti-inflammatory properties. This environment ensures the team produces only strong, medical-grade cells that can survive harsh conditions in diseased or damaged tissue.
These stem cells are meticulously isolated from umbilical cord tissue using a scientific process known as centrifugation. They also employ the latest in MRI imaging, C-arm fluoroscopy, and ultrasound guidance to ensure their doctors deliver treatments with unparalleled precision; this dramatically broadens the range of medical conditions they can address. As a leader in the field, CPI is paving the way for a new era of medical progress.
Within moments of meeting Ed, Scott, and the entire team, there was no doubt they took pride in helping patients regain their quality of life. I spent five days in Mexico between receiving the treatment and recording the podcast. During that time, I was thoroughly impressed by the staff’s level of care and attention – it was like having the ultimate medical concierges.
Their highly qualified medical team took a comprehensive approach to my care. After reviewing my medical history and MRI images, they discussed my desired treatment outcomes to craft a therapeutic strategy tailored to my needs. Their expert physicians and medical staff carefully considered all relevant factors when developing a treatment plan optimized for maximum effectiveness.
During my Wednesday morning appointment, the doctor injected stem cells into my right hip, knees, and shoulders. They executed the procedure with precision and professionalism, and it was far smoother than I’d anticipated. While I experienced discomfort that night due to joint pressure, the team was responsive and effectively managed my pain. Less than 24 hours after my treatment, I began feeling the positive effects, and any discomfort from the previous evening was gone.
It’s been a few months since that trip to Tijuana. Still, I’m so impressed by the level of care and results that I’ll surely return for future treatments. During the podcast, Nelson says that most patients learn about the Institute through word of mouth; that makes complete sense because I’d recommend CPI to friends, family, and anyone who wants to improve their quality of life.
The Talking Series is a weekly segment that delves deeper into topics discussed by guests on the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast.