Autologous Cell Therapy for Arthritis

An expert in non-surgical orthopedics and sports medicine, Dr. Farshchian serves as the medical director of the Miami-based Center for Regenerative Medicine, an organization he founded in 2000. His center treats patients with joint pain and cartilage damage in the body, particularly in the knees, shoulder, and spine. The goal of treatment is to assist patients in regaining a functional level of health. Cell therapy is one of several types of treatment utilized by Dr. Farshchian for addressing medical issues related to arthritis and pain.

In autologous cell therapy, physicians use the patient’s own cells to repair damaged joints. The patient’s undifferentiated cells can form into new cartilage or ligaments, or other tissue that will replace damaged arthritic joints. Autologous cell therapy has a clear advantage over the use of the more controversial embryonic stem cell procedures because there is no risk of cell rejection. Moreover, autologous cell therapy avoids the problem of potential tumor development that is associated with embryonic stem cell replacement.

Previously performed only in a hospital setting, technological advances allow physicians to perform autologous cell therapy in outpatient venues. Doctors are able to harvest patient cells from only 30 to 50 cubic centimeters of blood, which are ready for injection within 20 minutes. The blood platelets contain growth factors that stimulate mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which differentiate into the precursors of new tissue types, such as bone, ligaments, and cartilage. Therefore, autologous cell therapy can reduce pain in most patients without side effects or surgery.