How is Ontario Stem Cell Treatment Centre different from other clinics offering stem cell treatments?
The Ontario Stem Cell Treatment Centre (OSCTC) is a member of the Cell Surgical Network® (CSN). The CSN is an international network of physicians who are committed to helping people who suffer from inflammatory and degenerative conditions, through the advancement of innovative, quality care in the area of adult stem cell regenerative medicine. Our technology incorporates the use of adipose derived stem cells for both deployment and clinical research.
Early stem cell research has largely been associated with the controversial use of embryonic stem cells. Focus has shifted to non-embryonic adult mesenchymal stem cells which are found in a person’s own blood, bone marrow, and fat. Various facilities obtain stem cells using bone marrow or blood samples. These produce only small quantities of stem cells, and require time to culture additional cells in order to produce even an adequate amount for treatment. Prior research has indicated that the success of stem cell treatment is directly associated with the number of stem cells injected. Adipose derived stem cells are abundant naturally at approximately 2,500 times the levels found in bone marrow and the process to obtain them is a very comfortable experience for the patient. In contrast, bone marrow harvesting is a very invasive and painful process.
Considering the associated discomfort, the increased wait time in order for the stem cells to adequately culture, and the significantly lower quantities of stem cells being harvested related to bone marrow derived stem cells, the Ontario Stem Cell Treatment Centre has chosen to utilize adipose derived stem cells to treat our patients. We use specialized technology that isolates large quantities of adipose stem cells that can be utilized for treatment in under 90 minutes.
We have anecdotal and experimental evidence that stem cell therapy is effective in healing and regeneration. Stem cells have the ability to seek out damaged tissues in order to repair the body naturally. While we are still waiting for the completion of definitive studies, successful testimonials have continued to flood stem cell literature. Definitive data may take up to 10 years to accumulate, however, in an effort to provide relief for patients suffering from certain degenerative diseases that have been resistant to common modalities of treatment, the CSN has initiated pilot studies as investigational tests of treatment effectiveness with very high numbers of adipose derived stem cells obtained from fat.
Our harvesting and isolation techniques are based on technology from South Korea. This technological breakthrough enables patients to safely receive their own autologous stem cells in extremely large quantities. Our methods of treatment are patient funded and in recognition of that, we strive to make it financially feasible.
What are NonEmbryonic Adult Stem Cells?
What are NonEmbryonic Adult Stem Cells?
Adult Mesenchymal Stem Cells are undifferentiated cells that have the ability to regenerate damaged tissue by replacing dying cells. They have not been derived from an embryonic source, making them a much less controversial form of stem cell. Adult mesenchymal stem cells seek out areas of injury, disease and destruction where they are capable of regenerating healthy cells and work to accelerate the body’s own natural healing process. The more knowledge we gain of these cells, the more we realize they offer enormous therapeutic potential to help the body heal itself. Adult stem cells have been used for a variety of medical treatments to repair and regenerate acute and chronically damaged tissues both in humans and animals. Though found in many organs, adult stem cells are very accessible in high numbers from fat. Other sources of stem cells such as “amniotic” products which are commercially available are not derived from the patient’s body and are gamma radiated by the manufacturer, and therefore not live cells. While the use of stem cells is not currently approved by Health Canada for the treatment of any specific disease at this time, many reputable international centers have been successfully using stem cell therapy to treat various chronic degenerative conditions such as severe neurologic diseases, renal failure, erectile dysfunction, degenerative orthopedic problems, and even cardiac and pulmonary diseases for many years. Stem cell therapy has been noted as being particularly effective at repairing cartilage in degenerated joints.
What is regenerative medicine?
The field of Regenerative Medicine is the process of creating living, functional tissues to repair or replace tissue or organ function lost due to congenital defects or damage. Regenerative Medicine strives to regenerate damaged tissues and organs in the body by stimulating previously irreparable organs to heal themselves.
What are the tools of regenerative medicine?
In the past, regenerative medicine has focused on using various medications and hormones to limit disease and help the body repair itself. An example of this is hormone replacement therapy, which has been shown to be able to help the immune system and therefore assist the body in repairing diseased or injured tissues. Stem cell therapy has already shown considerable promise in treating many degenerative conditions. Stem cells have the ability to communicate with our tissues and with each other through a complex system of protein signaling molecules called cytokines or “growth factors.” The science of using growth factors with stem cells is evolving and represents the next main area of growth in regenerative medicine.
What is a stem cell?
A stem cell is any cell that can both replicate and differentiate. This means the cell can not only multiply, but also has the ability to change into different types of tissues. There are various types of stem cells. The most commonly discussed stem cell is known as an “embryonic stem cell.” These cells, referred to as “pluri-potent cells” have yet to differentiate, enabling them to change into any tissue. Taken from unborn or aborted embryos, there has been considerable controversy surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells. While they have been used in some areas of medicine, most often outside of North America, they have also been occasionally associated with tumor formations.
The type of stem cell utilized by OSCTC is the “adult stem cell.” This is a stem cell that already resides in one’s body within different tissues. Previously, much work has been done in isolating bone-marrow derived. These adult mesenchymal stem cells, like those derived from fat, can differentiate into bone and cartilage. Extraction of stem cells from bone marrow generates a relatively low number of cells. Therefore, they are usually cultured for a period of time in order to multiply their numbers for future use. Adipose tissue, or fat, are much richer in stem cells as compared to bone marrow and so treatment doesn’t need to be delayed pending the outcome of the culturing process.
The revolutionary technology used at Ontario Stem Cell Treatment Centre enables us to separate adult mesenchymal stem cells from human fat in a form that is so pure that it can be used both via direct injection and intravenously. As most people have at least a small supply of excess fat, and the stem cells in their fat are so plentiful, there is no need to culture the cells over a period of days. Patients can complete their entire stem cell treatment in a matter of a few hours.
How do adult stem cells heal?
Adult stem cells remain dormant until they witness some level of tissue injury. Tissue injury triggers the stem cells to go to the area of need and stimulate the healing process. The science hasn’t yet been able to determine whether the healing process is generated by the stem cells themselves changing into the type of tissue needed for repair, or if they serve to trigger a regenerative repair process by other mechanisms.
What diseases and problems can be treated?
Stem cells have been used for many years internationally by many reputable centers to treat various chronic degenerative conditions such as severe neurologic diseases, renal failure, erectile dysfunction, degenerative orthopedic problems, and even cardiac and pulmonary diseases for many years.
Stem cell therapy has been noted as being particularly effective at repairing cartilage in degenerated joints. It is an exciting option for the treatment of various orthopedic ailments of the knees, hips, shoulders, wrists and ankles. Many candidates feel stem cell therapy is the best alternative to invasive surgery or short term treatments such as steroid injections..
Is our procedure Health Canada Approved?
No. Like many investigational treatments, stem cell therapy has not yet been evaluated or approved by Health Canada. The OSCTC’s surgical procedures fall under the category of the physician’s practice of medicine, wherein the physician and patient are free to consider their chosen course of treatment.
Obtaining Health Canada approval is a major goal of the Cell Surgical Network® and the Ontario Stem Cell Treatment Centre. One of the biggest obstacles is the fact that across the country there are many types of therapies currently advertised, different methods of extractions, different types of cells and sources, and different processes used to separate the stem cells and ready them for use. We believe that our technology is a breakthrough in stem cell therapy that offers a unique opportunity to optimize our patients’ quality of life. It is important to note that there are many treatments performed regularly across the country that have not been Health Canada approved, such as colonoscopies and fat transfer.
Until such time as Health Canada has evaluated and approved stem cell treatments in Canada, our treatments are considered to be in the investigational stage. Each treatment is part of an ongoing investigation to track optimal parameters for treatment, to evaluate for effectiveness and adverse effects. It is essential that patients understand they are participating in these investigational (research) analyses.
Does OSCTC use embryonic stem cells?
No. We use ONLY the patient’s own adult mesenchymal stem cells. Adult stem cells are capable of forming bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, ligaments, blood vessels, and certain organs. We do not use embryonic stem cells due to their uncertain safety profile and ethical considerations.
Why do patients request stem cell treatment?
Many of our patients have been told that they require surgery for their ailments and they are looking for non-invasive options. Others have heard about the compelling testimonials about stem cells in the literature and on various websites but have been told that they have to travel to different countries and pay tens of thousands of dollars to access treatments. OSCTC provides a treatment choice for those informed patients who seek modern regenerative therapy for their orthopaedic conditions and want the convenience, quality and affordability of being able to access it more locally.
How does OSCTC obtain a person’s stem cells?
Our patients undergo a minimally-invasive liposuction type of harvesting procedure that generally lasts a few minutes and can be done under local anesthesia. SVF Stromal Vascular Fraction which contains mesenchymal stem cells and growth factors is then processed from 2 ounces of fat using a closed sterile system to avoid contact with the environment. SVF is ready for deployment within 90 minutes or less. Our patient’s stem cells are harvested and deployed during the same procedure. Unlike any other clinic in Canada offering stem cell treatment, we deploy the patient’s own stem cells both intravenously and through direct injection into the affected joint.
Why does OSCTC use liposuction fat rather than bone marrow as a source of stem cells?
Bone marrow sampling yields approximately 5,000 – 60,000 cells that are then cultured over several days to perhaps a few million cells prior to deployment. Recent advances in stem cell science have made it possible to obtain high numbers of excellent quality multi-potent cells from a person’s own liposuction fat. OSCTC uses technology acquired from Asia to process this fat to yield approximately five hundred thousand to one million stem cells per cc of fat, and therefore, it is possible to obtain as many as 10 to 40 million cells from a single treatment, removing the need to culture the sample over many days.
How is the fat obtained?
The fat is harvested with our special sterile harvesting technology. The “mini liposuction” fat removal procedure takes approximately twenty five minutes and the “liposuction” part of the procedure takes about 5 minutes. It is completely comfortable and is performed under local anesthetic. Specially designed equipment is used to harvest less than 55 ccs of fat from the patient. Post-operative discomfort is minimal and there is minimal restriction on activity
How does OSCTC control sterility in the processing of the stem cells?
Stem cells are harvested under sterile conditions using a special “closed system” technology so that the cells do not come into contact with the environment throughout the entire process from removal to deployment. Sterile technique and oral antibiotics are also used to prevent infection.
Does OSCTC use stem cells from any other animal source or person?
At OSCTC, we do not use any other form of stem cell in the procedure. The patient’s own adult autologous cells are used. There is no risk of contamination or risk of introduction of mammalian DNA into the treatments.
Why do some stem cell facilities around the world require days to weeks between removal of mesenchymal stem cells and reinsertion into the patient?
As explained above, many facilities obtain stem cells from bone marrow or blood in relatively small quantities and then culture (grow) the cells to create adequate quantities. Research indicate that success of treatment is directly related to the quantity of cells injected. CSN and OSCTC use adipose derived stem cells that are abundant naturally at approximately 2,500 times levels found in bone marrow (the most common source of mesenchymal stem cells). We use technology that isolates adipose stem cells in vast numbers in a short time span so that prolonged culturing is unnecessary and cells can be deployed into a patient within 90 minutes of harvesting.
Can stem cells treat cancer?
Yes. Stem cells have played an important role in cancer therapy for the past five decades. Hematopoetic stem cells have been used to restore bone marrow and replace blood cell lines following the planned ablation of a cancer patient’s bone marrow. This is known as a “stem cell transplant” and is associated with significant risk to cancer patients. New advances in cancer therapy have exploited stem cell property known as “TROPISM” which is the ability of stem cells to target tumors. This property has been used to carry cancer killing agents deep into the cancer where the body’s immune system cannot always operate effectively. These type of treatments are done world wide in cancer treatment centres. These treatments are not offered to patients of the OSCTC.
Can stem cells cause cancer?
Adult mesenchymal stem cells, which are the only type of stem cells utilized by OSCTC, are not known to cause cancer. There have been reports of tumors known as teratomas, associated with the use of embryonic cells. This, however, is a very rare occurrence.
Is there a risk for patients with known cancers?
If someone has had cancer that was treated and responded successfully, there is no reason to withhold stem cell deployment. In most cases, stem cell therapy would not be used in patients with known active cancer outside of an active protocol and the involvement of an oncologist.
Are any biological agents added to the stem cells?
Absolutely no foreign substances or medications are added during the process of stem cell treatment at the OSCTC. The stem cell harvesting and isolation technique employed by OSCTC yields an extremely high numbers of stem cells. Treatment cell numbers appear to correlate with treatment success. Our cells are contained in a type of “soup” called Stromal Vascular Fraction ( SVF) . SVF is essentially stem cells bathed in a rich mixture of natural growth factors. Some types of orthopedic and urologic diseases appear to respond better to stem cells that are super enriched with growth factors created by administering Platelet Rich Plasma to the patient. Autologous Platelet Rich Plasma is derived from a patient’s own blood drawn at the time of deployment.
Can I be expected to improve after stem cell treatment at OSCTC?
We make no guarantee of improvement after stem cell therapy at OSCTC. Stem cell therapy relies on the body’s own regenerative healing to occur, which may take time. Some patients may enjoy substantial relief quite quickly, whereas some patients may not experience optimal results for several months.
Is everyone a candidate?
Determining your candidacy for stem cell therapy is a thorough process involving a physical examination, a detailed health history, and potentially X-rays and/or an MRI. If you are a good candidate for the procedure, a member of our team will explain how stem cell therapy works and what you can expect on the day of your procedure.
Are any patients automatically excluded?
There are certain cases where stem cell therapy is not an option.
- Patients with uncontrolled cancer are automatically excluded.
- Patients with an active infection anywhere in their body must first undergo treatment.
- Severely ill patients may require special consideration.
- Patients with a bleeding disorder or who takes blood thinning medications require special evaluation before consideration for stem cells.
Who decides who is eligible?
The specialist seeing you at OSCTC will determine your eligibility based on your history, examination and test results.
What is the cost of treatment?
Patients who are considered to be candidates based on information provided in the candidate application form will be offered a consultation. This consultation will include an extensive discussion of the stem cell procedure as well as the potential risks, benefits and rare complications associated with the minor surgical procedure. It may also include our physician’s evaluation of x-rays, investigations, lab reports and a review of medical records. Unfortunately, provincial health care will not cover the cost of stem cell treatment since stem cell therapy is still considered investigational. The cost of treatment varies depending on the plan designed specifically for each patient.
What does the cost of the procedure include?
We are able to provide outpatient stem cell treatment at a fraction of the cost of that seen in many overseas clinics. Our fee covers the mini-liposuction procedure, Stromal Vascular Fraction SVF harvesting, preparation, intravenous deployment, and injection deployment which may include the use of advanced interventional radiology and fluoroscopy techniques. The total cost of treatment will be determined and discussed with each patient after a proper medical evaluation.
How many injections are required for success?
Most orthopaedic patients require only one stem cell treatment to obtain satisfying results. In rare cases, a second treatment may be considered beneficial.
Where can I get more information of stem cell treatments?
Additional information can be found on our affiliate website, Cell Surgical Network.