What is Regenerative Medicine?
Regenerative Medicine is a new field of medicine with one goal in mind: to heal and restore normal function of damaged tissues and organs. Just like the human body itself, regenerative medicine utilizes stem cells to replace damaged cells and tissues. Stem cells are, therefore, considered to be one of the most powerful tools in treating diseases. They go beyond conventional methods to repair and regenerate disease-related damage, by returning tissues and organs to a healthier state.
Stem cell therapy - an experimental therapy
Stem cell therapy is an experimental form of therapy. Most stem cell therapies worldwide are currently not approved, as the approval process for a new form of therapy is typically a lengthy process and, in the case of stem cells, this has not yet been completed.
The typical course of drug development involves a multi-stage clinical trial that begins with scientific research in the laboratory, continues with preclinical studies (studies on animals) and ends with phase I to III clinical studies in humans. Most stem cell-based therapies, like the ones we offer, have so far not undergone any or no full clinical testing. The effectiveness of such a therapy is currently still pending. In the context of experimental therapy, a doctor with a special license is still able to use novel therapies, as long as they have been classified as safe and the benefits of the therapy can be shown to outweigh the potential risks.
Stem Cell Therapy: Different Types of Stem Cells
Stem cells exist in many different types as they have been identified in various tissues and organs. Each type of stem cell is classified by: their origin in the body, and their potential (potency) to differentiate (transform) into other cell types. This potential varies among stem cell types.
Some stem cells are capable of differentiating themselves into any cell type of body (pluripotent). Others, on the other hand, are able to transform into many cell types (multipotent), while some are only able to differentiate themselves into few (oligopotent) or one cell type (unipotent).
Having this in mind, it is important to note that not all stem cell types are suitable for treating patients. For example, the use of Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs) for treating patients is restricted due to ethical issues, and their potential to grow into tumors.
One of the safest ways to apply stem cell treatments, which we employ at ANOVA, is to make use of autologous stem cells, i.e. stem cells derived from the patient themselves. By using autologous stem cells for the treatment of patients, there is very minimal to no risk of tumor formation, the transmission of infectious diseases or adverse immune reactions.
Stem Cell Therapy: Harvesting Stem Cells
Bone Marrow Concentrate (BMC) and Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) are the most abundant form of autologous adult stem cells and are thus well suited for clinical use. They are relatively easily harvested from the bone marrow (BMCs) or from the subcutaneous ("under the skin") fat (MSCs).
Currently, most therapies at ANOVA are based on a cell-free stem cell-based therapy, which is the Stem Cell Secretome. It is the application of the sum of the secretion of MSCs. We also offer combination therapies with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), a medium that is rich in growth factors and other cytokines (molecules from the immune system) that stimulates healing, as well as BMC. Both can additionally be supplemented with our stem cell treatments as they seamlessly synergize together.
ANOVA offers individualized stem cell therapies that are best suited for the particular condition of the patient - the treatment plan is therefore personalized. The application of these therapies depends entirely on the patient’s medical condition.
Stem Cell Therapies Treatments sorted by stem cell type (source tissue) and product
Numerous types of stem cell therapies are available at ANOVA. Stem cell research brought insights that allowed for technological advancements in therapies and expanding the knowledge of the underlying mechanisms of stem cells. This has allowed for more effective therapies to be developed.
Bone Marrow Concentrate (BMC) is one of the most commonly applied source of stem cells. Despite the fact that the actual number of stem cells in BMC is biologically limited, several other (regenerative) factors in BMC have been shown to deliver promising results in the treatment of numerous diseases.
Stem Cell Secretome
Stem Cell Therapies 2.0: The ANOVA Stem Cell Secretome Therapy is the next generation of stem cell-based therapies. It was designed to harness and mass produce the healing essences of stem cells (paracrine and regenerative factors, extracellular vesicles, exosomes) in a uniquely designed laboratory process.
Fat (adipose) derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC | adMSCs) are a commonly used source of stem cells, because of their availability and robustness. They communicate to other cells with a broad spectrum of secreted paracrine and regenerative factors. They are our favorite source of stem cells for the production of the secretome.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is a blood-derived, cellular product with concentrated supply of regenerative growth factors and cytokines. Its efficacy has been proven in some orthopedic conditions. When used in combination with our stem cell therapies, its efficacy is synergistically enhanced.
How Do Stem Cells Heal?
Stem cells, as explained previously, have the power to turn into any cell type, all the way from bone cells to brain cells, heart cells, nerve cells, kidney cells, etc. This is what defines stem cells. However, the potency to differentiate into any body cell type is not what defines their healing powers, as not all stem cell types are able to transform into any cell type. Only a selected few, such as Bone Marrow Cells (BMC) and Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs), have been identified to turn into most cells types and have been successfully used in medicine to treat diseases. They have been shown to hold several major therapeutic effects, such as:
- Downregulation of immune processes and inflammation
- Suppression of apoptosis ("programmed cell death", i.e. the suicide of cells)
- Activation of resident stem cells - upregulate progenitor cell mobilization
- Induce angiogenesis (development of new blood vessels) - leading to better blood supply
- Promote neurogenesis (development of new nervous tissue)
After initial damage to tissues or organs, such as mechanical forces in trauma or the lack of blood supply in strokes and heart attacks, further damage is caused by immune processes and inflammation. Subcritically injured cells, which are usually found in the vicinity of the damaged tissue or organ, primarily commit suicide instead of repairing themselves. This process further increases the damaged tissue volume. To repair this damage, which is (potentially) possible in most organs by the specific stem cells residing in them, is very slow or does not happen at all without external stimulation. In such cases, stem cell therapies have been demonstrated to be extremely effective in stimulating repair and limiting further damage.
ANOVA's Stem Cell Secretome Therapy: The Next Generation of Regenerative Medicine
Early stem cell research indicated that stem cells heal by replacing damaged cells in injured organs. Now, it has become evident that the major effects of tissue repair are not entirely based on direct stem cell implantation, but rather by the secretion of soluble (paracrine) factors from the stem cells themselves.
This discovery has prompted ANOVA to explore a completely new therapeutical approach in regenerative medicine, which has ultimately lead to our novel, safe and cell-free treatment: The ANOVA's Stem Cell Secretome Therapy.
As the first clinic in Europe, ANOVA's Stem Cell Secretome therapy utilizes autologous stem cells, i.e. cells that are derived from the patient itself, to mass produce the secretory factors (that retain the regenerative powers of stem cells), At ANOVA, a minimally invasive mini-liposuction procedure is performed, which allows for the isolation of stem cells from the subcutaneous fat (adipose tissue) of the patient.
This method does not rely on direct stem cell transplantation, and it doesn't have to. Latest scientific research has shown that stem cell-free therapies, such as the Stem Cell Secretome, offer the same efficacy as traditional stem cell transplantation therapies, with higher safety and minimized risk profiles for the patient.