09 638 4242 • 321 Manukau Road, Epsom

Frequently Asked Questions

I have joint pain. What can Stem Cell Therapy from Stem Cell Life help with?

If you suffer from osteoarthritis, hip pain, knee pain, ankle pain, back pain, lower back pain or degenerative disc disease, you may be a candidate for Stem Cell Therapy. To learn more, contact us on (09) 638 4242.

What are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are your body’s natural healing cells – cells from which all other cells with specialised functions (heart muscle cells, bone cells) are generated.

They have the amazing potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. In many tissues they serve as a type of internal repair system, dividing without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. This means they have the potential to recognise tissue injury and repair injured tissues.

Under the right conditions in the body or laboratory, stem cells divide to form additional cells called daughter cells. These daughter cells either become new stem cells (self-renewal) or specialised cells (differentiation) with a specialised function, such as cartilage-producing cells, bone-producing cells, muscle, fat, collagen, nerve, neural tissue and heart muscle-producing cells.

 

What is Stem Cell Therapy?

Stem Cell Therapy is the use of stem cells to treat or prevent a disease or condition. Bone marrow transplant is the most widely used Stem Cell Therapy, performed to replace bone marrow that has been damaged or destroyed by disease, infection or chemotherapy. This treatment is well-established and has been a mainstream medical procedure for decades.

Today, Stem Cell Therapy is also being used for other conditions, such as osteoarthritis, and research into stem cell use in other areas is ongoing.

 

Why do we use stem cells?

Your stem cells are your body’s natural healing cells. They are recruited by chemical signals emitted by damaged tissues to repair and regenerate your damaged tissue. Stem cells derived from your own tissues may well be the next major advance in medicine. Stem Cell Life has the technology to produce a solution rich with your own stem cells. Under audited protocols, these can be deployed to treat a growing number of degenerative conditions and diseases.

 

What does research show about stem cells?

Stem cells are tiny ‘progenitor’ cells. They have the potential to recognise tissue injury and repair injured tissue. In the right environment, these stem cells can make (differentiate) cartilage-producing cells, bone-producing cells, muscle, fat, collagen, nerve, neural tissue and heart muscle-producing cells and even some organs.

Stem cells may also affect healing by secreting special chemical messengers that repair damaged tissue. Adult stem cells appear to be particularly effective in improving painful joints, repairing cartilage and ligaments and even painful conditions along the spine.

 

What are adipose-derived stem cells and why do we use them?

Stem cells can be either adult or embryonic. Adult stem cells can be derived from bone marrow or fat and can be the patient’s own or from someone else. We only use the patient’s own cells (autologous: obtained from the same individual), adult (non-embryonic), fat-derived mesenchymal stem cells. There have been no cases reported of adult mesenchymal stem cells contributing to tumour formation. Using the patient’s own cells prevents the risk of rejection, or transfer of infections or diseases.

 

What are mesenchymal stem cells?

Mesenchymal stem cells are multipotent stromal cells that can differentiate into a variety of cell types, including chondrocytes (cartilage cells), osteoblasts (bone cells), myocytes (muscle cells) and adipocytes (fat cells that give rise to marrow adipose tissue).

 

Are you a candidate for stem cell deployment?

You may be considering Stem Cell Therapy for a particular condition or your physician may be treating you for a condition that they feel might respond to Stem Cell Therapy. At your initial consultation, you will see one of our doctors who has expertise in Stem Cell Therapy, to determine whether it may be an option for you. Your decision to proceed with treatment will need to be made between you and your doctor. Patients who have active infections or cancer are not candidates for stem cell treatment.

Some other conditions that can also make you unsuitable for stem cell therapy include: pregnancy, insufficient fat reserves, infection, unstable illness, cancer, dementia and blood disorders.

If you suffer from any of these conditions, we will analyse your condition and may advise against treatment, as your health is always our number one priority.

 

How many treatments do I need?

Most patients, especially those with orthopaedic conditions, require only one deployment in a single treatment session. Certain types of degenerative conditions, particularly auto-immune diseases, may require a series of stem cell deployments. The number and necessity of any additional treatments is decided on a case-by-case basis. Financial consideration is given in these instances.

 

What is involved with the stem cell harvesting procedure?

Stem Cell Life specialises in the use of fat-derived stem cells. With our current technology, we can harvest your own fat tissue under local anaesthetic via mini-liposuction. We then break down the collagen that binds the fat and stem cells to separate out a solution rich in your own stem cells. The process used by Stem Cell Life yields extremely high numbers of stem cells.

 

Where is the fat harvested from? How much do you need?

Fat can be harvested from any area on your body that has an adequate fat supply, but we prefer to harvest it from the areas that will give you the best yield of stem cells, particularly the ‘love handle’ area. The mini-liposuction, done under local anaesthesia, takes approximately half an hour. Specially designed equipment is used to harvest the fat cells and less than 50cc of fat is required.

This procedure is done under strict sterility and the processing of the cells is done under a completely closed system that is not exposed to air. Viable cells are then counted, and numbers are recorded on the operative report.

How are the stem cells administered?

One of the experts from our multidisciplinary staff will inject the cells according to the most appropriate route. This is called ‘deployment’.  A solution rich with your tiny stem cells is administered through injection into tissues, joints or veins. The entire process takes about three hours.

 

What about post-operative discomfort?

Post-operative discomfort is most notable in the fat harvest area and may persist for six weeks.

 

Can my body reject the stem cells?

Because it’s your own DNA material, there can be no rejection. 

How long does it take to notice improvement?

Stem Cell Therapy relies on the body’s own regenerative healing to occur. The regenerative process may take time, particularly with orthopaedic patients, who may not see results for several months. In some diseases, more immediate responses are possible.

Different conditions are treated in different ways and there are different degrees of success.

 

How successful is Stem Cell Therapy?

If the goal is regeneration of joint cartilage, you may not see expected results until several months after treatment. Some patients may not experience significant improvement and others may see dramatic regeneration of damaged tissue or resolution of disease.

Many of the disorders and problems we are treating represent pioneering work and there is limited data. Medical regulations prevent us from making any claims about expectations for success. However, for those who are chosen for treatment, it will be explained that we believe Stem Cell Therapy may be beneficial or in some cases that we are unsure, and treatment would be considered investigational.

 

Is it successful with arthritis or joint Injury?

The ability to repair tissue via Stem Cell Therapy may allow management of a wide variety of diseases including peripheral joint injuries and osteoarthritis.  Regeneration of meniscal cartilage with stem cells has shown remarkable results. Clinical data suggests the treatment of a knee injury with Stem Cell Therapy could yield an increase in meniscal cartilage volume and provide an effective treatment modality.

 

What about the treatment of stroke victims with Stem Cell Therapy?

Treatment with Stem Cell Therapy has been shown to reduce stroke infarct size and improve functional outcome (infarct: localised area of tissue, e.g. brain, that is dead or dying having been deprived of its blood supply because of an obstruction by embolism or thrombosis). Clinical data shows the promise of this exciting treatment option for stroke patients.

 

What about stem cells in the treatment of chronic lung disease?

Stem cells have several valuable functions that make them a promising therapeutic option in the field of regenerative medicine, including the secretion of anti-inflammatory cytokines and growth factors, the migration of cells to the site of injury when administered and the ability to ‘rescue’ cells through the transfer of functional mitochondria. They also offer the possibility of autologous cell transplantation, circumventing immune rejection. These properties, among others, make Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) a promising potential therapeutic agent in the treatment of chronic lung diseases including COPD.

 

What about stem cells and cardiac treatment?

Stem cells have shown interesting benefits for myocardial (muscle tissue of the heart) repair in early clinical data. Studies suggest a possibility for reversing the damage from myocardial infarction (heart attack) using Stem Cell Therapy.

 

Are Embryonic or Foetal Stem Cells used?

No. Only the patient’s own adult mesenchymal stem cells are used. Embryonic stem cells are associated with ethical considerations, increased risks and limitations.

Other factors you should consider

  • While this is a small fat harvest procedure, it is still surgery and may involve some minor stress and risk for the patient.
  • Blood thinning tablets are a particular risk and deserve separate mention. With aspirin (Cartia etc), anti-inflammatories (such as Voltaren) and warfarin, herbs and oils that thin the blood, such as fish oil (including krill oil), we may need to request you to stop the blood thinners for seven (7) days prior to the procedure to ensure your safety.

 

How do I apply?

If you think you may be a patient for one of our stem cell deployment protocols, you can apply for a consultation online using our application form or contact us on (09) 638 4242.

 

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