1What are Stem Cells? (click to expand)
Stem cells are essentially the building blocks of life. They are cells which have the potential to differentiate (change) into many different types of cells within the body. They are also actively involved in repairing, regenerating, and rebuilding damaged or absent tissue in the body that has been affected by disease, infection, or injury.
2How do stem cells heal?
Receptors on stem cells allow them to migrate to areas that need healing and effect change in that area. There is debate as to how stem cells affect the area once they are there. They can potentially become new cells in the area and create new tissue to help improve functionality. They also secrete chemicals which activate and attract your body’s native stem cells to initiate tissue regeneration. Regardless of how tissue regeneration occurs, there are numerous animal and human studies and an enormous amount of scientific evidence that show the amazing reparative potential of these cells.
3How do stem cells know what to become?
Stem cells receive external signals from the environment which guide them how to differentiate. These include chemicals secreted by other cells, physical contact with neighboring cells, and certain molecules located within the immediate vicinity of the cell. In other words, if a stem cell is injected into a knee joint, the cells within that joint (cartilage cells) will ‘tell it’ to become a cartilage cell.
4What are the different sources of stem cells?
There are many different sources of stem cells and many different types of stem cells. Stem cell can be derived from umbilical cord tissue, placental tissue, amniotic fluid, peripheral blood, adipose tissue (fat), bone marrow, and embryonic/fetal tissue. Each of these sources has advantages and disadvantages based on several factors. Umbilical Cord These stem cells come from from healthy, live births delivered by cesarean section and donated by the mothers of these children. Umbilical cord derived-stem cells are by far the most effective type of stem cells that are obtained by ethical means and available today. Their young age makes them far more biologically active and gives them a greater ability to divide and grow tissue than older stem cells (about 10 times as potent). There are also several different types of stem cells (mainly mesenchymal stem cells and hematopoietic stem cells) that can be derived from umbilical cords which allow for treatment of many different diseases and conditions. Placental Tissue These stem cells are similar to umbilical cord derived stem cells and are obtained in the same manner. A lot of research is looking at these stem cells to aid in burns, abrasions, and non-healing wounds. Amniotic Fluid Amniotic fluid is the fluid in which a newborn baby lives during a woman’s pregnancy. There are some stem cells floating within the fluid which allow for proper development of a growing fetus, but they are very few in number. There are also many different types of bioactive molecules which aid in tissue growth. This is the least expensive type of stem cell treatment available because it contains the least amount of stem cells, but it is also the least effective. Amniotic fluid stem cell treatment is best used in patients with very mild degenerative conditions or as a supplemental treatment to an umbilical cord derived stem cell treatment to help accelerate tissue regeneration. Peripheral Blood Stem cells derived from peripheral blood are also very few in number. Most clinics use peripheral blood to isolate something called PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma). PRP contains many bioactive molecules such as growth factors, cytokines, proteins, antioxidants, and amino acids. These can aid in tissue repair and have been proven to increase patient results when used in conjunction with stem cell treatment. We always use PRP with all of our stem cell treatments to give our patients the best chance at improvement. Adipose Tissue (fat) These stem cells are obtained by performing a liposuction on a patient and then separating out the stem cells from the fat that is obtained. This can be a painful and invasive procedure, but it does yield a high amount of stem cells. Unfortunately, these stem cells come from an older source and are much less potent than those obtained from a younger source (such as umbilical cord tissue). Recent research suggests that adipose derived stem cells are much less effective than we once thought and the majority of the scientific community has moved on to other sources which are yielding much better results for patients. Bone Marrow These stem cells are obtained by performing a bone marrow aspiration. This is an extremely invasive and painful procedure which involves drilling a hole into the hip bone and sucking out a portion of bone marrow. Bone marrow aspiration does not yield a large amount of stem cells and for this reason they normally need to be cultured (grown) for several weeks to reach a number which will result in an effective (therapeutic) dose. Unfortunately, culturing stem cells is illegal in the United States and therefore you will have to travel outside of the US to receive an effective dose of bone marrow derived stem cells. Embryonic/Fetal This is a very controversial source of stem cells as they are derived from unwanted (aborted) fetuses. These are currently illegal for use in the United States and have many moral and scientific issues surrounding them. Although these stem cells may contain a higher healing potential than some of the sources mentioned above they also come with substantially more risk. Embryonic stem cells have been linked to several cancers and unregulated tissue growth. For this reason and the obvious ethical concerns, you will have to travel outside the US if you are looking for this type of treatment.
5What is the Stemulus Difference?
At SIHC, we only use the youngest, highest quality stem cells and bioactive molecules from ethical sources that allow for the greatest healing capability and translate to the best results for our patients. We also provide PRP treatment with every procedure at no extra cost. In addition, our vast stem cell experience has allowed us to develop post-procedural plans which we know increase the efficacy of our treatments and allow our patients to continue to improve for months following their stem cell therapy.
6What is PRP? Is this the same as stem cell treatment?
PRP stands for Platelet Rich Plasma and it is derived from the peripheral blood of the patient being treated (autologous treatment). Some clinics will use the term stem cell treatment and PRP interchangeably, but PRP is not really a true stem cell treatment. PRP does contain a small amount of stem cells, but the healing capability of PRP is mostly due to the bioactive molecules present in the injection. PRP treatment will typically range from $500-$2000 per joint. Here at SIHC, we provide PRP with all of our stem cell treatments free of charge. We also provide PRP independently of stem cell treatment for patients with more mild conditions or those who prefer a less expensive option.
7What type of stem cells do you use?
At SIHC we only use the best source of stem cells and bioactive molecules available. This includes Umbilical cord stem cells (Wharton’s Jelly and cord blood), exosomes, placental stem cells, amniotic stem cells, and PRP.
8Where do you get your stem cells?
All of our stem cells are ethically obtained from healthy, live cesarean section births. The mother’s have to willfully donate and then complete an extensive medical history questionnaire as well as a blood test to make sure they are free of all communicable diseases. The umbilical cord and placental tissue is then tested, collected, stored on ice and sent to an affiliated AATB certified lab within 24 hours. The lab then uses the most advanced and sterile separation techniques to yield the maximum number of stem cell components. Products are once again tested for safety and efficacy and then carefully preserved and stored at -80 degrees Celsius. They are shipped directly to us via overnight delivery on dry ice in special FDA approved packaging. Once we receive them, they are stored in liquid nitrogen until they are ready for administration to our patients.
9What is regenerative medicine?
Regenerative medicine is a branch of healthcare which aims to stimulate the process of replacing, engineering or regenerating human cells, tissues or organs to restore or establish normal function.
10Is this procedure FDA approved or covered by insurance?
No. Unfortunately, no stem cell procedure within the United States is FDA approved or covered by insurance except those for blood cancers (leukemia, lymphoma, etc). Ourselves and many other clinics are working to try and correct this, but there is a lot of red tape and we are probably several years away from accomplishing this goal.
11How much does the procedure cost?
Because each patient is different, the costs will vary depending on what we are treating and the nature of your disease. Costs will vary from $5000-$12000 with an average patient cost of around $9000.
12How do I know if I am a candidate for stem cell treatment?
To find out if you are a good candidate for stem cell treatment, please fill out the initial contact form or give us a call. We will send you a more detailed Medical Information Form and review your records as a team to discuss your case and decide if we feel that you can benefit from our procedure. Click Here To Apply for Treatment
13Is there anyone who is not a candidate for stem cell treatment?
We do not treat anyone with active cancer. We also evaluate each patient on an individual basis to decide if treatment is right for you.
14Will my age affect the efficacy of the treatment?
Our experience has found that because we use ‘young’ stem cells, age does not affect the efficacy of the treatment. Whether you are 18 or 80 there is a potential for umbilical stem cells to have a positive effect on your health. Clinics that use ‘old’ stem cells (adipose and bone marrow) will have much lower rates of success with older patients.
15What if I have more than one medical issue?
The great thing about stem cell treatment is that it can often address many issues simultaneously. The extensive experience of our staff and the multiple methods of stem cell administration that we have developed provide our patients with unique opportunity to address many issues at once. Please feel free to contact us directly to see if stem cell treatment is right for you. Click Here To Apply for Treatment
16Is Stem Cell treatment safe?
After hundreds of thousands of stem cell treatments worldwide and numerous clinical trials, stem cell therapy has be proven over and over again to be a safe and effective tool for tissue regeneration. As mentioned above, umbilical cord stem cells are extensively tested and in our experience with more than 2500 patients we have never had a serious adverse event occur. To learn more about the risks and benefits of stem cell treatment for your specific condition, please contact us directly.
17Won’t my body reject the stem cells from a donor?
No, umbilical cord derived stem cells have no immune markers on them and are what is considered immune-privileged. In other words, they are a neutral cell and do not result in rejection (graft vs host).
18How long does it take to show improvement following stem cell treatment?
Everyone has a different journey following stem cell treatment, but most patients notice improvement somewhere around 2-12 weeks after the initial treatment with continued healing for up to 1 year following the procedure date.
19How long will the treatment last?
This depends on the condition that is being treated and the individual patient. Most patients that have an injury or damaged tissue experience long term relief lasting several years. Patients with progressive conditions often experience relief for a period of time and then relapse months to years later as their condition continues to progress (i.e. MS, ALS, Parkinson’s, etc).
20What side effects are associated with stem cell treatment?
Side effects associated with stem cell treatment are generally considered minor. These may include redness/rash, itching, swelling, bruising, nausea, etc. In over 2500 stem cell procedures we have never had a serious adverse event occur.
21How are the stem cells administered to the patient?
Depending on the type of treatment required, stem cells are injected or administered to the patient through a variety of different methods. All of our patients will receive an intravenous administration in addition to any other methods decided upon by the treating physician. This may include several different types of injections and routes of administration that will be discussed in detail with each individual patient.