If you were stopped on the street by a TV reporter and asked, “What is a growth factor?”, what would your response likely be? Maybe you’d think, “Growth factor has the word ‘growth’ in it. A growth factor must thus influence..well….growth!” If so, you would not be far off the mark. Growth factors are molecules that bind to receptors on cells like keys in locks, which then set off a cascade of activity inside the cell that influences things like its growth, proliferation, and functioning. This exerts an influence on healing and regeneration.
Many growth factors impact stem cells in organs, tissues and the bone marrow. Some like granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) actually helps mobilize stem cells from the bone marrow while others like nerve growth factor (NGF) influences nerve cell (neuron) growth and survival.
Dr. Steenblock makes clinical use of a variety of growth factors that influence stem cells in ways that are beneficial (such as mobilizing revitalizing or encouraging specific activity). Among these are:
Neupogen® (Filgastrim): This growth factor is a manmade protein similar to granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) which stimulates production and mobilization of bone marrow stem cells.
Under what circumstances does Dr. Steenblock use Neupogen®? The main or primary one is to purge out old, inactive (senescent) bone marrow stem cells in older, sedentary and chronically ill people. The mobilization of these senescent stem cells prods their bone marrow to replace them with new, more vital stem cells.
It took some experimentation but what Dr. Steenblock discovered is that Neupogen® given for five (5) consecutive days mobilizes huge numbers of inactive bone marrow stem cells and switches the new stem cell manufacturing machinery into high gear.
Lab tests done on patient bone marrow who did the “Neupogen® purge” has shown that in two weeks time this revved up replacement activity typically produces upwards of ten (10) times more healthy stem cells than were present prior to the Neupogen® injections!
Once a patient’s bone marrow is brimming with new, healthier stem cells, Dr. Steenblock harvests some of this stem cell-rich marrow and does a bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) treatment.
Now, there is something you should know about bone marrow stem cells: They secrete a growth factor called “Nerve Growth Factor” which supports neuron growth and survival, suppresses inflammation, and also promotes angiogenesis or new blood vessel formation. NGF also fosters myelin repair (which is good news for those with multiple sclerosis which involves immune system attacks on the myelin sheath which insulates nerves) and may help a variety of psychiatric disorders plus dementia, depression, autism, and anorexia nervosa.
Dr. Steenblock also uses growth factor-rich platelet rich plasma (PRP). Where does this come from? PRP is actually created from a patient’s own blood. What Dr. Steenblock does is take a blood sample and then separates the platelets and growth factors using a centrifuge and, depending on the medical issue he is treating, either injects or infuses it directly into the diseased or damaged tissue (such as an arthritic joint) or mixes it with a patient’s own (harvested) bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) and then infuses it – or both. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is rich in growth factors and other powerhouse compounds such as serotonin, fibronectin, adenosine diphosphate, thromboxane A, platelet factor 4, platelet derived growth factor, platelet activating factor and transforming growth factor beta, and SDF-1 which directly effects tissue repair as well as activates stem cells and encourage them to go to the sites where the PRP is injected. The PRP attracts circulating stem cells so they proliferate and grow wherever the PRP is placed. Joint pain and bad joints can be treated with PRP injected outside as well as inside of the joint.