Stem Cells Related Questions
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are defined as cells with the unique capability to self-replicate throughout the entire life of an organism and to differentiate into cells of various tissues. The three specific characteristics to a stem cell include self renewal, remaining in the undifferentiated state, and differentiation potential to be a specialized cell. They have the potential to specialize and become other cells, like cells in muscle, blood or the brain.
What are embryonic stem cells (ESC)?
Embryonic stem cells are derived from the inner cell mass of the blastula, the very early embryo. They are pluripotent, which means they can give rise to all types of cells of the body. To obtain these embryos, one must use a fertilized egg from which a whole human being can develop. Many people understandably oppose the idea of using embryos for the purpose of extracting ESC. Aside from these ethical and moral considerations, the use of embryonic stem cells is in any case still far from being clinically viable. Many studies have shown that although at times ESC can give remarkable results, there is an amplificatory effect with ESC that may significantly increase the risk of developing tumors. At Thai Regen, we do not use embryonic stem cells.
What are adult stem cells (ASC)?
Similar to ESC, it has been found that ASC can self-renew and differentiate into specialized cells of various tissues. ASC are continuously generated in small quantity by the bone marrow and can be found in tissues around the body. The role of ASC is to maintain and repair the tissue in which they are found. In case of major injury or degeneration, the number of stem cells needed to repair the tissue usually far exceeds the number of stem cells available in the tissue, hence stem cells from the bone marrow (BMSC) are called to contribute to the repair process.
What are hematopoietic stem cells (HSC)?
Hematopoietic stem cells are generated from the bone marrow and refer to the formation of blood cells. They are characterized by their dual ability to both self-renew and reconstitute and differentiate into red blood cells, lymphocytes, platelets, bone, and connective tissue. Several studies have also been published to demonstrate the exceptional plasticity of HSC. After transplantation, enriched HSC where shown to have the ability to also become muscle cells, heart cells, liver cells, lung, gut and skin cells, as well as neural cells.
Mesenchymal stem cells are considered to be multipotent adult stem cells capable of growth and differentiation into a number of different cell types. They have a considerable capacity for self renewal while maintaining their multipotency.
What are CD 34+ stem cells?
CD34+ is an abbreviation for “cluster of differentiation”. CD34+ cells can be found on the surface of haematopoietic stem cells. CD34+ is a marker that is used to differentiate haematopoietic cells from other cells. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, September 8, 2005 edition, the level of CD34+ cells is one of the best predictors of cardiovascular health; the higher the number of circulating CD34+ cells, the greater the cardiovascular health.
What is homing and engraftment?
Homing refers to the process by which stem cells are attracted and migrate into a damaged tissue, as opposed to a healthy tissue, and differentiate into the desired cell types to assist in repairing the damaged tissue. This process if fairly rapid and has been measured in hours and no longer than 1 or 2 days.
Engraftment occurs after the successful homing of stem cells into the damaged tissue. In this process, the new stem cells anchor themselves and fuse with the host cells to create a new healthy engrafted tissue. This seems to occur by the apparent reprogramming of gene expression in the resulting hybrid cell. For the engraftment to be successful, the stem cells must survive in the recipient, integrate in the surrounding tissues, and function appropriately for the duration of the recipient’s life. It has been shown that short-term engraftment can range from weeks to a few months while durable long-term multi-lineage engraftment can take many months in mice and years in patients.
Stem cells collected from the patient on whom they will be used is referred to as autologous (eg. patient’s own stem cells)
Stem cells collected from another donor is referred to as allogeneic
What are syngeneic stem cells?
Stem cells collected from identical individuals (twins) are referred to as syngeneic.
Stem cell therapy Related Questions
How are the stem cells extracted (harvested)? Is this procedure safe?
There are 2 main methods used nowadays to extract autologous adult stem cells from the patient. In the first method, bone marrow is extracted from the patient’s hip bone. The patient usually gets general anesthesia. Several large needle punctures are made through the skin into the back of his or her hip bone to remove marrow. The marrow is pulled out through the needle into a large syringe. Aside from the risks of general anesthesia, the main side effect is that the donor is sore for a few days afterwards.
In the second method, the stem cells are extracted by the Peripheral Blood Stem Cells method (PBSC), also known as Hematopoietic Stem Cells (HSC) method. In this method, hormone-like substances called stem cells mobilization growth factors are given to the patient a few days before the extraction (harvest) in order to stimulate a greater production of stem cells in the bone marrow which then migrate into the circulating blood. The stem cells are then removed or harvested from the circulating blood through a process called apheresis. This simple procedure takes a few hours. A catheter (a very thin flexible tube) is put into a vein in the donor’s arm and attached to tubing connected to a special machine. The donor’s blood is run through this machine which separates and keeps only the stem cells. The rest of the blood is returned to the donor. At Thai Regen, this is our preferred procedure as generating stem cells this way is simple, safe and does not involve the risk associated with localized anesthesia and multiple invasive marrow aspirations.
How are the adult stem cells injected back into the patient?
The method of stem cell injection depends on the patient’s condition and the treatment. Typically, we administer the stem cells using the Intravenous (IV) method. This is a straightforward method that allows for the distribution of the stem cells throughout the entire body. In some cases, the IV method is combined with other more involved methods such as by catheter, angiography, or lumbar puncture for the direct administration of stem cells to the targeted organ or tissues. These procedures are more complex and conducted at one of our partner hospitals where the patient usually remains overnight for monitoring, and released on the following day(s). The suitable surgery method is chosen according to the patient’s needs and medical records.
How many stem cells will I get?
Targeted amount of stem cells for effective transplantation varies from one treatment to the other but usually consists of around 2 million up to 2.5 million stem cells per kg body weight of the patient.
What if I don’t get enough stem cells?
Once the stem cells are harvested from your body, they are sent to our laboratory to be cleared from any potential issues and cultured to produce the required amount of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and CD34+. Before approval is given for delivering the stem cells back to the patient, a quality control test is conducted that consists in measuring the stem cells vitality and stem cells count to make sure that they are adequate and that enough stem cells are available for an effective transplantation back into your body. The chance of not getting enough stem cells is therefore very slim.
How does our stem cell therapy work?
Research has shown that the bone marrow with its constant generation of stem cells constitute the natural “renewal” system of the body. Once stem cells are released by the bone marrow into the blood stream, the stem cells are naturally attracted and migrate into a damaged tissue, as opposed to a healthy tissue, and differentiate into the desired cell types to assist in repairing the damaged tissue.
Our stem cell therapy operates in a similar fashion as the natural repair mechanism of the body. Our therapy consists in administering large quantity of stem cells by Intravenous injection into the blood stream and let the body’s natural renewal system take over and carry the stem cells to the damaged tissue and organs needing repair (see homing and engraftment). In some cases where this approach is not optimal, stem cells are injected in high concentrations directly into the damaged tissue.
Is stem cell therapy safe?
The use of stem cells is by no means completely new. Stem cells have been used for the treatment of blood cancer (leukemia) for more than 40 years. Since then, stem cell therapy using autologous adult stem cells have been used in thousands of cases. Since autologous adult stem cells therapy involves the use of the patient’s own cells, the risk associated with this therapy is very low as there is no risk that the immune system will reject the transplant or that the transplanted stem cells will attack the patient’s own body. This is not the case with allogeneic stem cells where the transplant, also known as a graft, may in some cases be rejected by the body or attack the recipient’s body.
Is there a risk of cancer?
A question that is regularly asked in connection with stem cell therapy is whether the injection of a large quantity of stem cells in the body increases the risk of cancer. This is a justified concern if a treatment involves embryonic stem cells because these cells actually do divide at an extremely fast rate, and they have already been shown to have cancer-causing potential in animals and humans. For this reason, at Thai Regen, we do not make use of embryonic stem cells.
Where do your stem cells come from and are there ethical concerns regarding adult stem cells research and treatment?
The adult stem cell therapy involves the use of the patient’s own stem cells. For this reason, there are no ethical concerns.
Will I be cured?
Unfortunately, stem cell therapy is not a cure for all. Some patients see a marked improvement after treatment, but the same treatment will have limited effect on others. There is obviously a need for further research to better understand the mechanism that causes the stem cells to work, what triggers the healing process, how the new stem cells integrate into the tissue, and what does this transformation into different cell types depend on. At Thai Regen, besides continuously striving to improve our Programs and treatment methods, we are also supporting stem cell research activities with our local partners in order to find the answers to these many questions and more.
Can I comfortably recuperate after a stem cell therapy program?
For our Health Regen patients, we offer the choice of accommodation in either an idyllic resort in Northern Thailand or a combination of stay in Bangkok with a suggested follow on stay at a resort at one of Thailand’s famous beaches. We want to make sure your body will recuperate in a healthy environment away from the stresses and strains of a busy metropolitan city.
For our Treat Regen patients that require hospitalization, the internationally recognized hospitals we work with offer the ideal setting for stem cell therapy followed in some cases by a rehabilitation program; such as daily physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions, highly recommended to maximize the results of stem cell therapy.
Treatment Enquiry and Scheduling
What is Health Regen Program?
Our Health Regen Program is for individuals looking to regain and sustain an optimal health as well as prevent or delay age-related diseases and other illnesses to which they might be predisposed. The treatment is also a welcome boost to the immune system and offers several positive side effects including a regain in one’s vitality and energy level. We believe it is the ideal treatment for people wanting to live longer but also live free of age-related problems and diseases.
What is Treat Regen Program?
Our Treat Regen Programs offer a patient the opportunity to undergo an innovative and promising stem cell based medical therapy to improve, slow down, or in some cases, eliminate the potential effects of a degenerative disease. This is achieved by using the patient’s own autologous adult stem cells and boosting them with a unique stem cell boosting agent that targets the failing organ or tissues. This treatment can potentially go a long way in improving a patient’s life style.
How do I know I can be treated?
You can fill out our Information Request Form and provides us with your medical history and current condition. Upon receiving your information, our multidisciplinary team will review your information and a patient counselor will contact you to discuss the next step in the evaluation process. This step normally takes 4 to 5 working days. You can be assured that all information we receive from you will be kept confidential.
What is a typical treatment schedule?
For our 7-day Programs, typically, the injection of stem cell mobilization factors will start on day 1 with harvesting occurring on the 4th day and stem injection on the 6th or 7th day. For the Treat Regen Program, schedule will vary according to patient’s requirements and will be discussed with the patient.
We have also introduced a 3-Day Stem Cell Therapy Executive Program that should appeal to executives and patients pressed for time.
Where is the treatment performed?
Depending on the required treatment, it will either be performed at a Thai Regen clinic either in Bangkok or Chiang Mai or at one our internationally accredited partner’s hospitals.
How much does it cost?
The price varies depending upon the Program chosen. For our Health Regen therapies, minimum expected price can be as little as US$6,000 for our basic 3-Day Executive Program and US$14,995 for our basic 7-Day Program. For our Treat Gen therapies, minimum expected price will be US$21,995 and will vary on a case per case basis and be confirmed upon our multidisciplinary team reviewing a patient’s medical records and health condition.
Does Thailand have good standards of medical care?
Thailand’s private hospitals handle over 1 million health tourist ever year and the country is rated as one of the top destinations worldwide for health and medical treatments. The hospitals we work with also have world class facilities and have received international accreditations for their high standards.
Does the price include flights and hotel?
The price may include accommodation at the patient’s request but not travel expenses such as air fares, meals, visas, and other personal expenses.
How long will I be in Thailand?
For our typical Health Gen Program, you will need 7 days. However, for our new Executive Health Regen Program, 3 up to 4 days in Bangkok or Chiang Mai will be sufficient. For our Treat Gen Program, you will need 7 days up to 6 weeks depending on the case being treated.
Will I be hospitalized?
No need! The Peripheral Blood Stem Cells method to collect and inject stem cells is simple and safe and does not require patient hospitalization. However, hospitalization is available for those who require specialized care and will be discussed with the patient before hand.
Booking flight and hotel?
We have made some pre-arrangements with hotels and resorts in Thailand and can offer a hospitality package beyond our stem cell therapy Programs. If you prefer to stay at a different hotel or resort, we can also offer free hotel booking assistance through a Thai travel agency. On request, we can also assist with booking flights. When available, our hotels and resorts partners will also extend their preferential rates for patients that desire to lengthen their stay in Thailand.
Most patients can receive a 15-day (or more) free tourist visa on arrival. If you are not certain of your country status, please ask us and our staff will be more than happy to check on your behalf. If you require a Visa to enter Thailand, we can also assist you with the application process.
What is the best way to get to Chiang Mai?
You can fly directly into Chiang Mai airport or you can fly into Suvarnabhumi Bangkok airport and take a 1 hour connecting flight between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The main carrier between Bangkok and Chiang Mai is the national carrier Thai Airways. There are also several low cost carriers that fly between Bangkok and Chiang Mai including Air Asia from Suvarnabhumi airport as well as Nok Air and One to Go (Orient Airlines) from the Don Muang domestic airport. Note that you should allow for at least a 4 hour transit time between flights to have sufficient time to transfer from Suvarnabhumi airport to Don Muang airport which are one hour drive apart from each other.
How can I get from the airport to my hotel or the hospital?
Thai Regen provides limousine service or wheelchair lift equipped van service from the airport to the hotel or hospital. This service is offered to and from the airport in Bangkok or Chiang Mai.
What is the weather like?
Thailand has a pleasant climate with warm weather throughout the year. Rainy season is from May to October, cool season from November to February, and hot season from March to April. Average temperatures range around 25 to 35° Celsius throughout the year.
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