In America, old age has long been characterized as a disease – but the truth is that it is simply a stage of life. Old age is a time in our lives that is ripe with rewards and rich with experiences.
However, approaching old age in terms of health seems to be the main concern when we talk about anti-aging or age management. While many of us may want to live a long life and maintain our young complexions; the underlying concern for all of it is our health. Our incentive shouldn’t be to merely appear young but to be our best selves (inside and out). Fortunately, for most of us, there are measures we can take to make old age a happy place of life.
That’s why age management advocates, like Dr. Richard Gaines, have dedicated their lives to developing regenerative medicine programs that aim to treat the underlying cause of a symptom and correct the problem at the source. Professionals like Dr. Gaines believe that, while there is no avoiding time, there are certainly ways that we can confidently embrace aging.
To be more specific, the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M), with more than 12,500 physicians and scientists as members, expresses its mission to “detect, prevent, and treat aging-related disease and to promote research into methods to [slow] and optimize the human aging process.”
Not only that, but the non-profit organization also states that “disabilities associated with normal aging are caused by physiological dysfunction which in many cases are open to medical treatment, such that the human lifespan can be increased, and the quality of one’s life enhanced as one grows chronologically older.”
Anti-Aging Medicine | Where are we now?
Anti-aging medicine has come a long way since the formation of the A4M – our current state of technology and its continual innovation gives us the opportunity to understand and modulate the complex systems that our bodies already naturally possess; like our immune systems, cardiovascular systems, muscular systems, and endocrine systems just to target a few. Let’s learn more about how this can be done.
American biomedicine has proven regenerative medicine in a few ways now, while still having more and more studies being published. You may already be familiar with one of the most common and widespread applications of regenerative therapeutics: platelet-rich plasma (PRP). Plasma, simply put, is the liquid part of our blood; it’s made up mostly of water and proteins and supports the circulation of blood through your body. The process of PRP injections starts with your own blood being drawn before it is placed in a centrifuge, which will then spin in order to separate the platelets and plasma from the other parts of your blood.
At that point, increased concentrations of your own platelets are injected into any injured or diseased tissues. PRP injections have been known to help with hair loss treatments and repair chronic injuries to tendons or muscles because the high-concentrated platelet injection accelerates your body’s natural healing processes.
Stem Cells and their Exosomes
Understanding why these platelets activate themselves and how they go about inducing regenerative processes in recipient cells is important in learning about the nature of other treatment methods, more specifically, ones that involve stem cells and their exosomes.
For example, if you were to suddenly experience an injury like a cut or a tear, your injury would signal the platelets in your blood to activate so that they can begin to release growth factor proteins in damaged or diseased areas. These growth factor proteins are what communicate to your cells that they should be producing new blood vessels or pathways for muscle tissues.
Much of the science behind regenerative medicine involves modulating the parts of cells that communicate with one another. The challenge is how to manipulate or observe these messages and their effects, without necessarily compromising any other functions of your body.
Using this logic, scientists and doctors have discovered ways to be more involved with our cell-to-cell communications by using stem cells and their exosomes.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells form the substance of every single tissue and organ inside of your body. They’re very useful in terms of anti-aging medicine because they’re able to renew themselves as well as develop into different types of cells. We all have different types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells, tissue-specific stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells (where most of the research has been proven), and induced pluripotent stem cells (lab-engineered).
In the United States, doctors regularly use the stem cells (mesenchymal stem cells) that come from blood or bone marrow transplants to treat patients with other types of disorders and diseases. This works mainly because of those stem cell’s ability to differentiate and multiply; however, the main limitation for more in-depth modulation of the cells comes from their complexity. If we want to control some of their functions, we run into communication issues with the nucleus of the stem cells. There’s just a lot of information being traded and clustered for us to control any of their functions more closely yet.
What are exosomes?
This is where exosome research may be the future of anti-aging medicine. An exosome is an extremely small vesicle that is released by nearly every cell in the body. It is essentially a storage unit of biomolecules (like the growth factor proteins that signal regeneration during PRP injections).
It’s also just one type of extracellular vesicle. The other major type is called a microvesicle. The main difference between exosomes and microvesicles is that the exosomes travel in the space between the recipient cell, whereas the microvesicles are attached to the membrane of the cell itself. While both types of these vesicles are being studied, it seems that exosomes have more free-range in being able to convey macromolecules from distant places.
The role of exosomes in anti-aging
An exosome has a few functions. It can present antigens, induce cell signaling and possibly even cause membrane fusion in order to transfer cargo and other receptors. It is basically a package of information, where the information is a protein or mRNA, and will therefore have an effect on a recipient cell. Scientists have found this to be useful in a few ways.
They’ve looked at exosomes as biomarkers of disease; which just means that researchers are able to observe immune responses within exosomes that might correlate with certain diseases or disorders in order to catch the first sign of something harmful. Exosomes have also been used to induce immune responses to pathogens to promote general wellness and isolate other types of diseases.
The therapeutic potentials of exosomes are vastly different when compared to stem cells or PRP injections because it is inherently not a cell-based therapy. Unlike a stem cell, the exosome lacks a nucleus, which makes it sort of a miniature version of a parent cell. This is one of the reasons why it’s so efficient and can be modulated more easily than a cell-based therapy. Scientists have also observed that the molecules act singularly when transferring to the recipient cell; meaning that the information is not clustering and that the cell is intaking them at a rapid pace.
Exosomes as an alternative to cell-based therapies
These specific characteristics of exosomes make them a safer alternative than some cell-based therapies because the modulation process is less complex and presents fewer risks. They provide direct energy as well as the components that induce energy production, which is to say that they have many of the same therapeutic properties as the cells they are derived from.
The process of exosome treatment is fairly straightforward as well – there’s no need to draw any blood. While this method of regenerative medicine is promising and powerful, it is best when used in conjunction with other types of therapies. Every patient’s needs are different and they require their own unique treatment plan – so be sure to consult with your doctor about what types of therapies may be best for you.
Schedule a free consultation at (561) 931-2430, email [email protected], or go to www.lifegaines.com for more information. LifeGaines is located at 3785 N Federal Highway Suite #150, Boca Raton, FL 33431.