Alpha-2-Macroglobulin (aka A2M) is a large protein found naturally in the blood that is single-handedly shifting the paradigm for treating Osteoarthritis and degenerative disease in joints. While previous generations of treatment sought to limit the symptoms, thanks to biocellular advances, we now have an effective tool to stop the degenerative process. That is revolutionary.
What Causes Cartilage Damage and Osteoarthritis (OA)?
You do not have the same cartilage as when you were a kid. Even in a healthy joint, cartilage is constantly changing. Cells called Chondrocytes keep growing the cartilage and a class of enzyme in the joint called Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMP's) keeps breaking it down. This keeps the cartilage healthy. In an arthritic or inflammatory knee, too much MMP is activated and cartilage breakdown overwhelms the growth which leads to overall loss and degenerative disease.
How can degeneration from Osteoarthritis (OA) be prevented?
Natural proteinase inhibitors exist in the blood to limit MMP activity. These are TIMP-1,2 and alpha-2-macroglogulin. They bind to and trap the activated MMP and the body disposes of the inhibitor/MMP complex. In an osteoarthritic joint, production of these inhibitors become overwhelmed by the proinflammatory agents. Preventing the progression of OA requires inhibiting and/or eliminating MMP.
What is Alpha-2-Macroglobulin (A2M)?
A2M is a Broad Spectrum Multi-Purpose Protease Inhibitor with a "bait and trap" mechanism that allows it to bind and eliminate multiple destructive proteases all over the body. Although A2M is naturally found in a healthy joint, in a joint with OA, it is quickly used up. Furthermore, because A2M is one of the largest proteins in the blood, it is too big to pass through the lining of the joint (called the synovial membrane) to replenish what was lost.
How can A2M be used to treat OA?
Some A2M is produced naturally in the joints, but the majority is produced in the liver and is found in high concentrations in the blood. A2M is upregulated in response to a cartilage injury. However, because its increased size and inability to cross the synovial membrane, A2M must be concentrated from the blood and injected into the joint to be effectively therapeutic. Some orthopedics use a bedside centrifuge for this purpose, but their injection is limited by the strength of the centrifuge. At Bodyworks, we use a university-grade clean hood to reach the highest possible biologic concentrations of A2M in our Regenexx-SD and SCP products.
Alpha-2-Macroglobulin (A2M) Therapeutic Potential
The fight against Osteoarthritis degeneration is an ongoing battle. The latest research has identified concentrated Alpha-2-Macroglobulin as possibly THE primary therapeutic agent for Osteoarthritis. Although large-scale studies are ongoing, A2M has the potential to be more powerful than any drug, and because it is derived from the patient's own body, the side-effect profile (as one would expect from a medication of similar strength) is practically zero. Current results suggest that a SINGLE therapeutic injection of concentrated A2M may slow the progression of OA by way of cartilage breakdown, through inhibited protease activity and decreased catabolic and inflammatory factors. However, it follows that PERIODIC injections to prevent these factors from building back up, may stop the degenerative process altogether.
What can A2M do for me?
Anyone who currently suffers from osteoarthritis can benefit from even a single therapeutic injection of A2M. Not only can that provide some symptomatic relief from the pain, but it may also change the ratio of factors in the joint from those that break down cartilage to those that rebuild it. Further, anyone who has had significant injury to the knee, INCLUDING surgery (ie meniscus repair), has already started the degenerative process even if he/she is not experiencing pain in that joint. A joint-protecting A2M injection may be the best way to prevent early onset of disease in these cases. Additionally, recent studies with mice noted that early intervention may be critical for preventing or minimizing the development of Post-Traumatic Osteoarthritis. Whether from inherent or post-traumatic OA, therapeutic A2M may be the most efficient and effective tool available for preventing progression of the disease. A therapeutic dose of A2M can be found in both the Regenexx-SD and concentrated SCP products.