Frequently asked questions about regenerative medicine
What is regenerative medicine?
Strictly speaking, regenerative medicine is treatment that utilizes human cells for therapeutic purposes. At our clinic, we extract mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from the patient’s own fat cells, cultivate them externally, and administer them. Through this process, we can “regenerate” damaged tissues.
What are mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)?
These undifferentiated cells are some of the youngest and most active among the cells that make up our bodies. Inside the body, they work to repair tissues and support good health. MSCs are known to decrease in number as we age.
How many patients have you treated?
We have treated over 500 patients (as of August, 2016).
Is this treatment covered by medical insurance?
Stem cell therapy is not covered by medical insurance.
How much body fat is necessary for the process?
We need to collect somewhere between 3 and 20 ml of body fat. Because the amount collected is so small, the procedure will not leave any sort of indentation in your body.
How do you collect it?
Under local anesthesia, we make an incision of a few millimeters on the patient’s abdomen and collect the fat with a thin, round-ended collection needle called a cannula. We close the incision with 1 or 2 sutures, and remove them 1 week later. After a few weeks, the incision becomes mostly invisible.
Is the collection process painful?
Because the process is carried out by experienced doctors, there is hardly any associated pain.
Can I take a bath after the collection process?
We advise patients to take showers and avoid getting the incision area wet for a few days after the collection process. Patients may take baths after a week.
How are the cells administered?
The cells which are utilized in the therapeutic process are suspended in a transfusion fluid and administered intravenously.
Is it safe to receive cells through an IV?
We take precautions for safety during administration, so it is completely safe. The MSCs administered through the IV circulate through the body in an extremely short period of time, collecting in the areas necessary to be repaired and then doing their work there.
I have heard that stem cells carry a risk of causing cancer. Are MSCs safe?
Despite the question of iPS cells and ES cells receiving clearance of the risk of transforming into cancer for clinical applications, the risk of MSCs transforming into cancer is extremely low. This is one of the most important characteristics of MSCs. They are a safe and easy to use cell source, and we believe that MSCs from fat cells are currently the best option.
Are there any side-effects?
MSCs are part of the patient’s own body. Those are the cells that we administer, so there are essentially no side-effects. That being said, there are sometimes minor changes, such as a temporary feeling of warmth.
Does it hurt?
There is no pain associated with IV administration.
Is there an age limit for treatment?
Our clinic only treats patients over 30 years of age. Further, as the number and quality of MSCs tends to decline with age, the amount of time necessary for their cultivation tends to increase.
How long does it take between the collection of body fat and the administration of MSCs?
MSC propagation varies depending on the individual, but normally it takes between 2-4 weeks. Currently, patients must wait approximately 4-6 weeks between the collection and administration processes.
How long will I have to continue receiving treatment?
There are many cases of a single administration of MSCs continuing to provide positive effects for more than a half year. There are some cases of positive effects continuing for over 5 years.
How long will it take to notice the effects?
Though there are some instances of beneficial effects noticed on the day of treatment, such as improved blood flow, patients generally see improvements gradually over the span of more than 3 months.
I’m currently taking medication. Is it possible to continue taking my medication even during stem cell therapy?
The medication depends on your current health status, so please feel free to consult with us at your convenience. In most cases, it is possible to continue your medication.
MSCs are seeking certification as a medication, and are undergoing several clinical trials overseas, some of which have already received certification.
Because it is a new field, please take your time to consider your treatment carefully.
If you have any other questions or need any further information, please feel free to ask our clinical staff.