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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Key Questions About Stem Cell

WHAT ARE STEM CELLS

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells of multi-cellular organisms that have the ability to develop into more cells of the same kind or differentiate to become other kind of cells, such as nerve cells, muscle cells, etc. Stem cells act as a special type of internal repair system in many tissues by dividing accordingly without limit for purposes of replenishing other cells.

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF STEM CELLS

Stem cells are categorised based on their potency and ability to self-renew. Potency is the ability to differentiate into new specialized cells. There are 3 main types of stem cells namely: embryonic stem cells, and adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).


Embryonic stem cells:
As the name suggests, embryonic stem cells are obtained from embryos. This type of stem cells requires specific signals for them to differentiate into specific cell types. They are secluded from the inner cell mass (of blastocysts of pre-implantation stage embryos). The cells have a limitless expansion and pluripotency potential. They play a significant role in regenerative medicine as well as tissue replacement after disease or injury. However, there are major ethical issues in the usage of embryonic stem cells for treatment purposes, and it is controversial mainly because the cells are produced by destructing an embryo. Besides, its usage is illegal in many countries, i.e. Germany, Austria, Ireland, Italy and Portugal.


Adult stem cells:
This type of stem cell is found in many types of tissues in the body i.e. the bone marrow, brain, blood, skeletal muscles, liver and skin. Furthermore, the stem cells are acquired from the intended recipient via an autograft which reduces immune rejection risks.
Adult stem cells are used/have been used successfully for years to treat leukaemia among many related bone and blood cancers via bone marrow transplants.


Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs):
This type of stem cells are simply somatic cells which have undergone genetic reprogramming to become or act like embryonic stem cells. The cells are reprogrammed to express genes which are important for maintaining critical embryonic stem cell properties.
Induced pluripotent stem cells are useful in drug development as well as modelling diseases today although additional research is needed.

HOW ARE STEM CELLS EXTRACTED

Stem cells are extracted or collected for transplant depending on the source. Stem cells can be collected from the bone marrow, umbilical cord, dental pulp, circulating blood, etc. 


Umbilical cord tissue is a popular source of MSCs for regenerative and anti-aging therapy. This is because MSCs from umbilical cord is originated from extraembryonic tissue which holds better stem cells properties in comparison with other sources of MSCs such as fat, due to the age of the donor. The umbilical cord and donor’s blood are screened for infectious diseases (according to WHO standard) and cultured in sterile environment to avoid contamination. Every batch of the cultured MSCs are tested for microbial contamination and harmful bacterial toxins before approved for clinical usage.

WHAT IS STEM CELL THERAPY

Stem cell therapy can be defined as the use of stem cells to prevent or treat a disease or medical condition. The treatment is usually administered via injections. General of MSCs are derived from umbilical cord and dental pulp.

BENEFITS OF STEM CELL THERAPY

Stem cells have many benefits over conventional treatment methods. We can mention several positive benefits about stem cells, here we highlight the most notable benefits:


1. Potential to reverse diseases: Stem cells offer a renewable source of new replacement cells for individuals suffering from diseases like Parkinson’s, heart attack as well as genetic defects that cause cell damage or defects. Many diseases that were hard to treat or incurable in the past can now be treated using stem cell therapy.


2. Speeds up healing: Stem cell therapy has been found to reduce the amount of time it takes for injuries to heal.
 

3. Reduces pain: It’s less painful to treat conditions such as chronic joint pain using stem cells.
 

4. Increases functionality: Stem cell therapy also increases flexibility and range of motion when used to treat joint pain.
 

5. Stem cell studies have shown that the treatment reduces muscle compensations as well as the risk of injuries in the future.
 

6. Stem cell therapy has also been found to prevent hair loss and the formation of scar tissue when used to treat burns and wounds.
 

7. Stem cell therapy has also reduced over-dependence on conventional medicine.

MEDICAL CONDITIONS TREATED WITH STEM CELLS

There are no limits to the number or types of diseases that can be treated using stem cells since most medical conditions arise from cell damage or defects. However, since stem cell research is still ongoing, not all medical conditions have been found to be curable using stem cells. Here are a number of the medical conditions that have been proven to be treatable:


• Orthopedic injuries
• Musculoskeletal problems
• Wounds and incisions resulting from surgeries
• Spinal cord injuries, spinal stenosis, and brain trauma
• Cardiovascular diseases like stroke, congestive heart failure, and hypertension
• Visual impairment
• Hair loss
• Diabetes among other pancreatic dysfunctions
• Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis among other neurodegenerative diseases
• Type I Diabetes
• Arthritis
• Skin burns

RISKS OF STEM CELL THERAPY

Stem cell therapy is considered safe and effective. However, it’s worth noting that research is still ongoing. For this reason, treatment should be concentrated on conditions that have already been found to be curable safely with little to no risk.


As a precaution, you must seek treatment from qualified medical practitioners only i.e. a physician who is qualified to offer stem cell treatments such as our medical team. This precaution is important given the existence of many unscrupulous medical practitioners who aren’t qualified to offer stem cell therapies.

TYPES OF STEM CELL INJECTIONS

Every patient has different requirements for stem cell injections and upon consultation, a specific stem cell treatment program is developed for you. The program will include information on the administering process and selected routes, amount of stem cells to be injected and how effective the treatment should be. 


Stem Cell Injections locally 
In this case, regenerative stem cells are administered locally only in the specific area of pain.
 
Stem cell injections
IV Infusion – The stem cells are directly administered into the patient.
 
Stem cell injections knees
Stem Cell Injections at Joints – This is a special process where the stem cells are injected into target joints which enhances movement, eliminates pain and helps in tissue regeneration.

METHODS TO INTRODUCE MESENCHYMAL STEM CELLS

To date, multiple methods for introducing stem cells have been used. For example, orthopedic surgeons tout the benefits of micro-fracture. While short term benefit may be derived, micro-fracture surgery requires lengthy recuperation.


Also, recent studies have demonstrated that the type of cartilage produced by micro-fracture is weaker fibrocartilage as opposed to the more desirable and stronger hyaline cartilage.


Recently, some studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of MSCs in combination with fat and platelet rich plasma in the treatment of osteoarthritis.

HOW DO STEM CELLS ACTUALLY WORK

The most commonly known role of stem cells is their ability to develop into different organs but they also have other properties that can be very important for healing. Stem cells produce over 30 kinds of growth factors and tissue chemicals that initiate the healing process in the body. Stem cells help assemble other local and systemic mesenchymal stem cells to focus on repairing damaged tissue and organs. They are also active in immune modulation to support or suppress T-cell work in the body.


Stem cells are stimulated to travel into an area by signals from the organ depending on chemical, neural and mechanical properties.
Under ideal conditions mesenchymal stem cells would respond to damages and healing would occur. Factors that affect stem cell response include fitness of the patient, age, and the level of free radicals in the body.

APPLICATIONS OF MESENCHYMAL STEM CELLS

Serious disorders such as heart and lung disease, high blood pressure, spinal and neurological injuries, diabetes type 1 and 2, adult macular degeneration of the eye, Parkinson’s disease, osteoporosis, are just some of the stem cell therapy applications that have already been employed, and in many cases, with dramatic results.


Research has also shown that stem cells can be used to manage aging in individuals and make them appear younger. Mesenchymal stem cells play a vital role in regenerative stem cell therapy of many degenerative and life-threatening conditions. They have a wide range of potential therapeutic applications.

ROLES PLAYED BY VARIOUS STEM CELLS

Cardiomyocytes
Aid to repair damaged cardiac tissue following a heart attack. Cardiomyocytes have been used to control many threatening heart conditions.


Neuronal stem cells
Generate nerve and brain tissue. They are very essential in neurosurgery


Myocytes
Repair muscle tissue. They can also be used to control various types of arthritis.


Osteocytes
They can generate bone.


Chondrocytes
They can generate cartilage, which would have an important role in the treatment of arthritis and joint injuries.


Adipocytes
Generate fat tissues.

HOW TO DEFINE MSC

All our MSCs are validated in accordance to Dominici et al. (Minimal criteria for defining multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells. The International Society for Cellular Therapy position statement. Cytotherapy. 2006;8(4):315-7.) as stated below:


Adherence to plastic. 
MSC must be plastic-adherent when maintained in standard culture conditions using tissue culture flasks.


Specific surface antigen (Ag) expression. 
≥95% of the MSC population must express CD105, CD73 and CD90, as measured by flow cytometry. Additionally, these cells must lack expression (≤2% positive) of CD45, CD34, CD14 or CD11b, CD79α or CD19 and HLA class II.


Multipotent differentiation potential. 
The cells must be able to differentiate to osteoblasts, adipocytes and chondroblasts under standard in vitro differentiating conditions.