Juan Ponce de Leon is best known for his search for the fountain of youth. Though this story is probably more fiction than fact, and was attributed to him only after his death, the legend of the fountain of youth and the quest for it have persisted since the 16th century. It has proven to be as elusive as the Holy Grail.
I hear a lot of baby boomers (of which I am one) talk about aging and the quest to maintain their youthful look, mind, and health. If only there was a magic elixir for the myriad problems we face in our advancing age. Well, perhaps there is something that can turn back the hands of time to some extent, a little bit of the fountain of youth if you will.
Adipose tissue has been found to be an easily accessible, abundant source of adult stem cells. These stem cells can be used to treat a broad range of medical and cosmetic conditions. If you look at our Resource Library, you’ll see a sampling of the potential applications of adipose-derived stem cells, from growing new bone to aiding reconstructive procedures to mitigating the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. And, yes, adipose derived stem cells can help us look youthful too. You can have lipofilling and lipostructuring performed anywhere on your body. Isn’t this a dream come true? Take your fat from a place you don’t want it and put it somewhere you do! Who of us wouldn’t like to remove a few pounds of avoir du pois and apply it elsewhere?
All joking aside, the potential future medical applications for adipose-derived stem cells are profound, and they are not that far off. Now is the dawn of the era of regenerative and personalized medicine. Most countries outside of the United States are already using adult stem cells to treat patients with myocardial infarctions, fistulizing Crohn’s disease, and to grow organs. Medical tourism, traveling to other countries to take advantage of treatments not yet routinely available in the United States, has become a booming industry in part because of regenerative and personalized medicine. It is only a matter of time before these therapies become available in the U.S.
So this brings to mind a question. What can I do now to prepare? Speaking for myself, I already have an answer. I will store my adult stem cells in the hope of using them later in the event of a medical ailment, or, in a more vain moment, when I want to reverse the visible “hands of time” with a cosmetic treatment. Not only will I store my own adult stem cells, but I will encourage my children to store theirs as well. After all, that one umbilical cord blood sample I keep may not be useful for all three of them, so why leave anything to chance? It is a bio-insurance that will give me some peace of mind as a mother. It is also a gift I will be giving to family and loved ones. What about you?
Angela M. Miele, DPM
Medical Science Liaison