FAQStem Cell Treatment & Arthritis, Osteoarthritis
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are biological cells from which all specialized cells with different functions are generated. No other cell in the body has the ability to generate new cell types. Unlike a muscle cell that produces movement, or a red blood cell, which carries oxygen, a stem cell does not have any specialized properties. Stem cells are identified by whether they are able to regenerate tissues. They undergo a cell division process ensuring self-renewal. While symmetric division gives two identical daughter cells, asymmetric division produces one stem cell and one cell with limited potential.
Where do stem cells come from?
Embryonic stem cells
Embryonic stem cells come from embryos that are four to five days old. Day 5 embryos are reaching so called blastocyst stage. These stem cells can divide into more stem cells or can become any other type of cell. This versatility allows embryonic stem cells to be used to regenerate or repair damaged tissues and organs. Human trials began in 2010 in America and have continued throughout Europe since 2012. At the moment embryonic stem cells are not used for treatment purposes due to the time it takes them to become functional adult cells and also due to their ability to divide rapidly over and over again.
Adult stem cells
Adult stem cells are found inside adult tissues, such as bone marrow or fat tissue. Emerging evidence suggests that adult stem cells are able to become other types of cells and provide huge regenerative potential. We were able to use adult stem cells for treating various diseases within ICCTI since 2011.
What diseases can be treated with stem cells?
Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes, Stroke, Cancer, Parkinson's Disease, Spinal Cord Injuries, Autism, Sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Cardiovascular disease.
Can stem cells be used as prevention or rejuvenation therapy?
We are able to employ a cutting-edge technology to diagnose cardiovascular status of the patient, especially by evaluation of endothelial dysfunction and offer appropriate rejuvenation cell therapy to prevent or minimize cardiovascular risks.
Which orthopedic treatments can stem cells be used for?
We use stem cells for treating degenerative changes associated with arthritis. Arthritis affects especially large joint cartilages (knee, hip, ankle, and shoulder). Arthritis is mainly characterized by joint pain, and also by stiffness or joint swelling. Arthritis and osteoarthritis are currently treated with painkillers (analgesics), which do not treat the root of the problems. Arthritis can even reach the stage when the damaged joint needs to be artificially replaced. Stem cell treatment represents a revolutionary and most modern method for improvement of health status and quality of life of patients with arthritis.
Is the application of stem cells safe and are there any side effects?
Thousands of patients all over the world have already had their own stem cells used for treating arthritis and there have been no cases reporting serious side effects such as tumours, myocardial infarction, stroke or autoimmunity disease due to the application of these cells. In rare cases, local swelling may occur or body temperature may temporarily increase. Very rarely (less than 0.1% of cases), infection can develop in the area where the cells were applied.
Is the application of stem cells suitable for me?
If you have problems with joints (pain, limping, stiffness), and consequently need to use analgesics (painkillers); or if you consider surgery (artificial joint replacement), it is certainly advisable to contact and consult us.
Who cannot undergo stem cell treatment?
Patients with serious infectious diseases or cancer (within 12 months of active treatment with chemo/radiotherapy) cannot undergo stem cell treatment. Patients taking considerable doses of pain relief drugs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) also cannot undergo stem cell treatment unless the amount they take is limited to a minimum of one week before the procedure.
How long does the procedure take?
Our procedure consists of three parts – liposuction, isolation of stromal vascular fraction (SVF) cells that are rich on stem cells, and their application. The preparation for the liposuction (marking the extraction area and local anaesthesia) takes approximately 30 minutes; the liposuction itself, depending on the amount of extracted adipose and adipose tissue requires 15–30 minutes; the isolation of SVF cells takes about 2 - 5 hours depending on whether we perform the treatment in Prague or Brno. Application of your own cells to the intended location takes about 30 minutes. The whole procedure is performed within one day as an out-patient procedure.
What is the success rate for treating arthritis with stem cells?
According to our CASE CONTROL STUDY – CLICK HERE FOR RESULTS the positive effect of stem cells is experienced by 85% of patients with osteoarthritis of grade 1-3 depending on patient’s weight, appropriate exercise after the procedure and other factors. In patients with osteoarthritis of grade 4, the treatment effect is expected to be lower.
Which medications should not be used during stem cells treatment?
You should not use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs one week before the procedure and another 4–6 weeks after the procedure, unless your specialist states otherwise.
What can negatively affect the result of arthritis treatment with stem cells?
Alcohol and smoking decreases the positive effect of stem cells, so you should limit its consumption to a minimum one week before the planned procedure and for at least 4–6 weeks after the procedure.
What can positively affect the result of treatment with stem cells?
Healthy life style (eating a healthy diet, doing appropriate exercise, not smoking and not drinking too much alcohol) cannot only improve the effect of stem cell treatment, but also help you stay well and enjoy a long life. Moreover, American scientists have discovered that vitamin D3, blueberry extract and green tea extract support the multiplication and effectiveness of stem cells.
I am waiting for artificial joint replacement. Can I undergo stem cell treatment before that?
Yes, you can, but it is necessary to consult it with our doctor-specialist. Stem cells are able to improve healing of even severely damaged joint(s), and therefore this treatment method can be administered without the risk of extensive surgery. Some patients thus avoid the surgery entirely or at least postpone it significantly as they are relieved from pain and their quality of life improves substantially.
How long have you worked with this method and how many patients have you treated?
Our first patients were treated in the U.S.A. in 2011. In total, we have treated more than 3000 patients and more than 5000 of their joints within International Consortium for Cell Therapy and Immunotherapy (ICCTI).
Will my insurance cover the cost of stem cell treatment?
In general, insurance companies do not cover stem cell treatment.
Do you just harvest cells from the Adipose tissue, or do you also harvest from bone marrow?
We use only adipose tissue as a source of stem and other regenerative cells. The yields are about 1000-times higher for mesenchymal stem cells in comparison to bone marrow.
What kit / equipment do you use for the harvest (e.g MyStem?) etc.
We have our own proprietary system that is also certified and approved by the regulatory body.
Do you use and cell multiplication methods?
No, we use only non-manipulated cells freshly isolated from adipose tissue. It is the safest way how to provide cell therapy.
What is the approximate cell yield for each joint injected?
Typically we get about 1 million cells per each millilitre of adipose tissue, ie. Aiming for 50ml of fat to get approx. 50 million of stem and regenerative cells.
Who would administer the injections and what guidance is used (ultrasound, x-ray?)
Always experienced board-certified orthopedic surgeon or traumatologist will do the injections. Based on his experience he may or may not use the ultrasound guidance.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a form of joint pain that involves inflammation within a joint. Common arthritis symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and lack of motion. The pain from arthritis is due to inflammation around the joint, daily wear and tear of joint or damage to the joint. The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and reactive arthritis.
What is osteoarthritis?
Known as degenerative joint disease or as wear and tear, it is a type of arthritis that results from the damage of joint cartilage and wearing down the bone. Most patients who suffer from osteoarthritis are overweight, as it is caused by stress of the joint. It causes pain and stiffness of the joints (especially in the hip or knee).
What are the other options in treating arthritis than with stem cells?
Drugs as painkillers (analgesics), non-steroid inflammatory drugs (NSAID) and steroid injections are widely used for reducing pain, stiffness and in some cases also inflammation in affected joints. For grade 4 arthritis the doctors recommend joint (including hip, knee, shoulder and elbow) replacement surgery.
What are the stages of Arthritis?
Often the first sign of arthritis is swollen tissue around the affected joint, which can be revealed by MRI scan or X-Ray. People in stage one show very small pain or discomfort. The doctors can recommend taking supplements and regular exercise.
Involves a thickening of synovial lining which covers the cartilage and can eventually destroy the joint. In this stage the bones are not rubbing one another. For overweight patients, weight reduction is recommended as it will relieve pain in the affected joints. No stressful activities and regular exercise is highly recommended.
The inflammatory process releases enzymes that digest the bone and cartilage in the affected joint. People in this stage may experience a loss of movement, joint dislocations, muscle and joint pain.
The joint becomes less functional and it may become completely immobile. People usually experience a high level of discomfort and severe pain. The cartilage is completely gone which leaves the joint stiff. Joint replacement is the only surgical option.