Stem Cells are tiny “progenitor” cells. They have the potential to recognise tissue injury and repair injured cells. In the right environment, these stem cells can change (differentiate) into tissues such as bone, cartilage, muscle, fat, collagen, neural tissue, blood vessels, and even some organs. Stem cells may also effect 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 painful conditions of the spine. There are many human clinical trials with stem cells going on right now.
Animals have been safely and successfully treated for years.
NZSCTC specialises in the use of adult adipose (fat) derived stem cells. We utilise a process that yields high numbers of stem cells. This procedure is done under strict sterility with the processing of the cells done using a semi-closed system.
The complete procedure usually takes around 3 hours, using no medication other than local anaesthetic so you can fly or drive home immediately.
Meet and Greet
On arrival on the day of your procedure, you will be met by the medical team. Do not forget to eat and take your usual medication. You will be admitted and prepared for theatre. Premeds may be given for those who are particularly nervous.
Fat Harvesting Procedure
We harvest your own fat cells using a gentle mini-liposuction technique which takes around 30 minutes, done under local anaesthetic. Fat can be harvested from any area on your body, but we prefer to harvest it from the areas that will give you the best cosmetic result.
Preparation of the SVF
After harvesting the fat cells, the next step is to isolate the cells. The collagen that binds the fat and stem cells is broken down with an enzyme, collagenase, and then separated out to produce a solution rich in your own stem cells. This solution, more correctly termed “SVF” (stromal vascular fraction), is a combination of stem cells, many growth factors (cytokines) and small granules. This process, taking around 90 minutes, yields extremely high numbers of stem cells. The extracted cells are counted, their viability noted, and ultra-filtered. No cell expansion is involved.
Deployment of the SVF
Depending on the type of deployment required, the SVF can be injected through veins, arteries, into spinal fluid, subcutaneously, or directly into joints or soft tissues.
This part takes around 30 minutes. Shortly after this you will be discharged. You are able to drive or fly home immediately.
Bone Marrow VS. Fat Derived Stem Cells
– Is there a Controversy
Whether your adult mesenchymal stem cells come from bone marrow or from fat probably does not make a difference in terms of clinical results. Although some claim that bone marrow derived cells are superior to fat derived cells, there is no evidence to substantiate that.
The fact that there are many more studies on bone marrow cells does not prove clinical superiority but merely supports the obvious fact that fat derived cells are based on more recent discoveries and although evidence is accumulating, there are far fewer studies using these cells. It is important that one is not mislead by the word “bone” in bone marrow, possibly implying that since this is an “orthopaedic source” it “might be better” for treating orthaopedic conditions such as cartilage regeneration. In fact, the bone marrow is part of the reticulo-endothelial system and just happens to be found in the centre of bone.
All of these types of cells are equally primitive and have the potential to differentiate into mature functional tissues. For many disease types such as cardiac pathology, adipose derived cells appear to be showing superiority to bone marrow derived cells.
This may be related to the well documented qualitative and quantitative attrition in bone marrow stem cell counts related to age and chronic illness (chronic disease causes bone marrow suppression). Such changes in the number of cells over time and the quality of cells dependent on health have not been seen in fat derived stem cells. Fat derived cells are a natural choice considering their easy and rapid availability in extremely high numbers.