Stem cell therapy, also known as regenerative medicine, is the use of stem cells to treat or prevent a disease or condition where the stem cells are used to repair or replace diseased, dysfunctional or injured cells. Stem cell therapy has been in use for over 30 years, initially with bone marrow transplants for patients with leukaemia and lymphoma, and today there is much research on the use of stems cells for a wide range of conditions. Stem cells are found in different adult tissues, although fat and bone marrow remain the most commonly used tissues to gain access to them. Stem cells have the ability to transform into many other types of cells, including cells that make cartilage and bone making them ideal for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Stem cells have also been found to regulate the immune system, which is especially useful for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and others.
Stem cells are a population of precursor cells that are capable of developing into many different cell types in the body. Stem cells are distinguished from other cell types in the body by two important characteristics: Firstly, stem cells are undifferentiated cells capable of self- renewal and secondly under certain conditions or under specific stimulation, stem cells can be induced to differentiate into specific cells. In some organs, (for example the bone marrow, or skin), stem cells regularly divide to repair and replace worn out or damaged tissues. The capability of stem cells to self-replicate and to differentiate into a specific, more specialised cell type is what makes stem cells so promising in the treatment of specific diseases.
What conditions can be potentially treated?
There is a wide range of conditions where stem cell therapy may be used.
For information on specific conditions, please click on the links below:
It is important to note that stem cell therapy is not simply injecting stem cells into the body, but is part of a full regenerative program. This program includes a detailed history and full work-up, optimisation of health using via high dose supplemented vitamins and minerals and additional peptide treatments (if required). Without this program, the results from isolated stem cell injection are likely to be sub-optimal at best.
Stem cells can be found in large numbers in fat (adipose) tissue. In fact, there are 500 times more stems cells per gram of tissue in fat than in bone marrow! In addition, harvesting the stem cells from fat is much easier than from bone marrow, and therefore much safer. It is the patients OWN stem cells that are harvested and then re-implanted. We do not use stem cells from embryos, umbilical cord or other people (allogenic). As such, the treatment is extremely safe and there is no risk of rejection or transmission of diseases.
The procedure itself is safe and easy to perform, and involves a mini-liposuction technique to harvest fat from anywhere in the body (usually the abdomen, love handles or thighs are used). The fat tissue is then treated with an enzyme in order to break the stem cells loose from the fat tissue, and then purified. Once this process of purification is complete, the end solution that contains the stem cells is called the Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF). The SVF is mixed with growth factors and other solutions depending on how it will be used, and then is ready for treatment. Depending on the condition being treated, the SVF with the stem cells may be injected directly into the area (ie wound, joints or tendons), nebulised and inhaled (lung disease), injected into the spinal canal (neurological disease) and/or administered via intravenous infusion (often several modalities are used at the same time in order to increase the effectiveness of the treatment). The whole procedure takes approximately 2.5 hours and is performed in the clinic.
Is this established medical practice?
Stem Cell Therapy is still considered an investigational treatment. There is much research that is currently being undertaken to evaluate stem cells for use with many different conditions, however the evidence so far looks very promising. Our doctors at Dermamed are part of international research teams and are constantly refining our techniques based on the latest evidence. From time to time we conduct our own research trials and patients may be asked to be part of these trials.
How much is the treatment?
In Asia, stem cell therapy is very popular and treatments usually cost around $20,000. Here at Dermamed, we feel it is important to make this treatment as accessible as possible, and have priced our treatments accordingly at a very low $6000. This price is a full package, including the pre-treatment work-up, vitamin and mineral supplements, the stem cell therapy itself and the follow up appointments.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.