A word we often hear associated with regenerative medicine is ‘potential’. We talk frequently of the potential of things like platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy and stem cell procedures because we know what the material used in such procedures is theoretically capable of. Translating that potential into real-world results is another matter. With that in mind, there is a new blood cell therapy being researched in Canada that has great potential for wound treatment.
Where PRP therapy uses concentrated platelets and the growth factors they contain to promote wound healing, researchers at the University of Montréal Hospital Research Center are looking at specialized white blood cells to do the same thing. The cells are known as macrophages, and their main purpose in human biology is to engulf and destroy foreign substances.
The Canadian researchers have discovered a way to modify the cells in order to accelerate cutaneous healing. Science has known for a while that macrophage cells play a role in wound healing; the Canadian researchers have just found a way to enhance that natural potential.
Macrophages and Growth Factors
Researching the procedure began with the understanding that human blood contains certain growth factors used by the body to promote healing. Macrophage white blood cells aid in the healing process by cleaning up the site of a wound in need of repair. The better job the cells do, the more quickly cutaneous healing can occur.
University of Montréal scientists discovered that macrophage cells can be manipulated by focusing on a growth factor known as milk fat globule epidermal growth factor (MFG-E8). Through their research, they realized that MFG-E8 works in concert with macrophage cells to control inflammation and prepare a site for healing. When the growth factor is not present, wounds heal more slowly.
Knowing this, researchers developed a system of harvesting white blood cells from subjects, treating them with MFG-E8, and then injecting them into the treatment site. Moreover, it works. In testing, laboratory mice treated with the modified cells demonstrated accelerated wound healing.
It is interesting to note that the procedure used to extract and modify the cells is normally used for treating cancer patients. But with the results observed in the Canadian research, it looks like the white blood cell therapy could be used for other purposes as well. One thing that immediately comes to mind is wound healing for diabetics. Better healing could reduce or eliminate the need for amputations.
It Is All About Potential
It is difficult to fully appreciate how important the Canadian research is for wound healing. Unless you understand the basic mechanics of stem cell regeneration and tissue growth, the whole idea of manipulating cells to promote healing can be hard to grasp. That’s why Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI), a Utah company that specializes in PRP and stem cell training courses, likes to focus on potential.
Regenerative medicine is all about potential. What researchers are doing in Montréal has the potential to improve wound healing substantially. That could lead to revolutionary treatments for diabetics, combat veterans, and first responders who suffer wounds while in service. A perfection of the process could even mean a better understanding of how the same process is used in cancer treatments.
At Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute, they train doctors in how to use PRP therapy to promote wound healing. Imagine being able to combine PRP with modified white blood cells to not only accelerate cutaneous healing but also avoid some of the complications that can occur when wounds do not heal properly. The potential is there, we just need to learn how to use it better.