Frailty is a common condition as we age, and 10% of all people aged 60 or older have this condition. Symptoms of frailty include reduced physical functions, lowered immunity, and cognitive loss. Eventually, those experiencing frailty may have an increased dependence on others or even require the assistance of a wheelchair.
Not all of us become frail as we age. While some reach their 80s and can still drive, play tennis, and manage finances, others may find themselves relying more on family and friends for help, even with daily chores like buying food.
Frailty is a condition that can be staved off through nutrition, physical exercise, and proper management of prescription drugs. However, researchers are also investigating other ways to reduce frailty: through Regenerative Cellular Medicine.
Researchers from the University of Miami took hundreds of millions of cells from young, healthy donors and injected them into subjects in their 70s suffering from moderate to severe frailty.
Six months after receiving treatments, the subjects then performed physical and cognitive, including a six-minute walking test on a treadmill. Researcher Dr. Joshua Hare, the director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at the University of Miami, explained that the results were promising:
“One of the most striking findings was the walk distance,” which had increased by 60 to 70 meters - about the length of a football field. “That’s a big increase in walk distance in six minutes for a person who’s slowing down,” Hare continued. “That kind of difference can make a meaningful change in a person’s day-to-day experience.”
Adult stem cells are located in the fat or bone marrow of our bodies. They are responsible for replenishing dead cells and growing new cells and are necessary for maintaining organs and healing wounds. Severe injuries in athletes, such as rotator cuff tears, are often treated with stem cells.
One type of stem cell is mesenchymal stem cells. These are found all over the body and are, as Hare calls them, a “master regulator” of all other stem cells. Mesenchymal stem cells are responsible for the replenishing activity in tissue, bone marrow, and organs.
As we age, we naturally lose stem cells. Hare hypothesized that boosting the supply of Mesenchymal stem cells in older people would reduce their symptoms of frailty and replenish stem cells across the body.
Hare and his team started their research with mesenchymal stem cells extracted from the bone marrow donations of young, healthy donors. Their aim was to prove that Regenerative Cellular Medicine was safe. Doses ranged from 50-200 million cells.
Those who received 100 million or more stem cells had positive results, including a 50% reduction in TNF-α. TNF-α is an inflammatory biomarker that’s been linked to mitochondrial dysfunction, disruption of organ systems, and inflammation - which contributes to frailty. There were no negative responses or serious health effects in any of the subjects.
After this first phase, Hare conducted a double-blind placebo-controlled study, using Regenerative Cellular Medicine on 30 participants with frailty. Patients who received 100 million stem cells had the greatest health changes. Patients had reduced inflammatory levels, higher quality-of-life scores, and cognitive and physical improvements. There was even evidence showing an improved immune response to infections. Again, there were no negative responses.
The treatments effectively reduced symptoms of frailty and may be a viable solution for those who are aging negatively. “Frailty is aging at a faster rate,” Hare explained. “What I like about the frailty paradigm, it’s very biological, very definable, it’s very agreed upon. We’re all aging, and some people are aging in a negative way. This treatment could put them on a more positive trajectory.”
With Regenerative Cellular Medicine, researchers and medical professionals hope to increase an individual’s “health span,” or the number of years that an individual is active. Hare’s ultimate goal is to find a measurable biomarker of frailty and then therapy in patients with the marker as early as age 60.
Until then, his next phase of testing will be another double-blind trial with an increased his participant pool (120 subjects).
If you suffer from frailty or a persistent injury and want to learn more about Regenerative Cellular Medicine, contact us to learn about treatment options. You can also read about our Regenerative Cellular Medicine here.
Learn about our resident expert Dr. Lionel Bissoon and read testimonials here.