Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ
What are stem cells and how do they work?
For specific questions on stem cells, please visit our About Stem Cell Therapy site.
Which conditions can be treated with stem cell therapy?
Due to the ability of stem cells to differentiate into and reconstruct multiple types of tissue when damage occurs, their application in the treatment process of almost every disease or injury is warranted. However, stem cell therapy is better researched for some diseases than for others. In addition, as with every treatment, the chance for success depends largely on the patient himself. This includes progression of the disease, whether it is acute or chronic, and to what extent other organs and functional systems have been compromised. Age, body type, as well as general well being of the patient also play a role.
At ANOVA, specialists evaluate advantages, disadvantages and chances of success in order to determine whether a patient is a potential candidate for stem cell therapy. Although the procedure is minimally invasive, all patients are medically cleared in advance.
If you want to know whether your condition can be treated at ANOVA or not, please get in touch with us.
Are there any guarantees that stem cell treatment works for me?
The honest answer to this question is no, there is never a guarantee for success in any medical treatment. This is no different for renown or novel treatments such as stem cell therapy. A number of factors determine success, such as overall health status of the patient, complexity of the disease, as well as interaction of the stem cells with the patients’ immune system. However, stem cells are well researched by now, and thousands of applications worldwide prove their meaningfulness in the treatment of a wide variety of diseases.
What kinds of stem cells are used at ANOVA?
All currently available stem cell treatments that are offered at ANOVA entail the use of adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), easily obtained from subcutaneous fat. Harvesting the stem cells from the patients’ own body ensures no adverse immunological reaction or transfer of diseases when the stem cells are re-administered. At the moment, ANOVA offers stem cell-based therapy in form of the Stem Cell Secretome from adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells. This treatment is stem-cell-based, but completely cell free. ANOVA also offers therapies based on Bone Marrow Concentrate and Platelet Rich Plasma.
Is the application of stem cells at ANOVA safe?
Numerous phase I and II studies have proven that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are safe for medical application, while several phase III studies are currently carried out. Neither tumor formation nor a threatening immune response could be observed so far. Especially when stem cells are harvested from and re-implanted into the same individual (‘homologous’ MSCs) the application can be considered safe, because the stem cells do not trigger immunological response and cannot act as vectors for infections from graft to host. In general, MSCs may also be safely allografted, meaning the extraction from a human donor and injection into a genetically different human recipient, without causing rejection or diseases. ANOVA Stem Cell Secretome and BMC, the therapies we currently offer, are only offered as an homologous treatment. Additionally, the Stem Cell Secretome treatment is completely cell free, which minimizes the chance of adverse events immensely. we have not experienced or observed any adverse events so far.
How does stem cell harvest work?
For ANOVA's Stem Cell Secretome Therapy, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are obtained from subcutaneous fat. These are extracted via nutational liposuction, which allows the removal of fat without stem cell destruction and requires only light sedation. First, ‘tumescent’ anesthesia is performed, meaning the infiltration of subcutaneous tissue with diluted local anesthetic. The fat is now pervaded with large quantities of saline (sodium chloride) solution. Next, the fat-saline mix is removed from the subcutaneous space and sampled for further processing. Processing includes enzymatic activity that separates fat tissue from the adipose-derived stem cells. Not all countries allow this method of separation.
We are also offering the stem cell therapy with cells obtained from bone marrow. Bone marrow-derived stem cells are harvested under local anesthesia. A hollow needle is inserted into a specific site of the pelvic bone, the posterior superior iliac protrusion, passing skin and subcutaneous tissue. Bone marrow is then extracted using a syringe, and processed on site while the patient remains sedated. Next, the processed MSCs, as well as fluid containing the secretome (cytokines, microvesicles, mRNA, etc.), are re-injected into the patient. This procedure typically causes no pain, when performed with caution and by an expert.
What is the legal vantage point concerning treatment with adult stem cells?
Since 2012, stem cells and stem cell products are defined as ATMP (advanced therapy medicinal products) and/or tissue preparations in many countries and have been subject to the respective drug legislation to ensure their safe application. In Germany they are subject to the Medicinal Products Act (Arzneimittelgesetz) and everyone who manufactures or processes them is required to be licensed to do so. In countries where a license is not necessary, treatment with stem cells is considered to be significantly less safe.
Obtaining a license means lengthy and costly evaluation processes for doctors, hospitals and companies as well as ongoing, intensive measures in relation to quality assurance. ANOVA has followed this path and applied for licenses for all stem cell products (BMC, secretome) and is licensed since 2018. This way we comply to the strict quality specifications according to German and EU law. All products have been officially tested and monitored with regard to their safety. The production takes place according to the specifications under GLP (good laboratory practice) and GMP (good manufacturing practice).
Is the treatment covered by my insurance?
ANOVA Institute for Regenerative Medicine procedures are not covered by health insurances at the moment. They are available only on a self-payment basis.