The following Frequently asked Questions “FAQ” page was created in response to the many questions we are asked every day. Our FAQ aims to share up-to-date and reliable medical information about the current clinical applications of stem cell therapies in Thailand. It also seeks to cover basic legal,scientific and ethical issues relating to regenerative medicine.
An Introduction to Stem Cells
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Stem cells used in stem cell treatments can be sourced from several different lineages including:
Embryonic Stem Cells (ESC) – These Allogeneic cells are usually extracted from early stage human embryos. ESCs are the most primitive of all cell types but carry high risk for uncontrolled cell division while treating disease. The extraction from human embryos also poses several ethical issues. The regen center of Thailand does not offer ESC cell therapies. Learn more about embryonic stem cells here..
Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells ( UCBSC ) – As its name suggests, Allogeneic UCBSC comes from the umbilical cord of a child that can be extracted and stored during birth. Since 1956, Umbilical cord blood cells have been effectively used in treating several disorders and is considered one of the most viable sources of cells along with human peripheral blood or bone marrow derived stem cells..The regen center offer several therapies using cord blood stem cells. Learn more about UCBSC here..
Adult Stem Cells – These cells can be derived from all postnatal sources in children and adult tissues:
Bone marrow Derived Stem Cells: Bone marrow cells are one of the most common source of adult stem cells. The invasive nature of extracting stem cells from Bone marrow requires puncturing the hipbone near the iliac crest area. This process requires G-CSF stimulation, is quite painful and are does not contain as large a quantity of usable cells as other sources. The bone marrow is the second most common source of mesenchymal cells after the umbilical cord… Learn more here..
Peripheral Blood: Through a process known as apheresis, stem cells may be extracted through a synthetically advanced cell separating mechanism that can isolate stem cells from a patient’s bloodstream. However, this is exclusively for autologous or self-transplants only. It is a lengthy procedure with a yield that is less “plastic,” making engraftment and homing a serious issue.
Other body parts where stem cells can be extracted from are fat or adipose tissue ( for cosmetic treatments ), skin, teeth (dental pulp), cornea, liver, and small intestine. As in the case of peripheral blood, stem cells derived from any of these body parts may be used for autologous purposes only.
There are several areas where umbilical cells are more useful than bone marrow derived cells including the fact that:
Umbilical cord blood stem cells:
- Are easier to collect as it involves a painless and non-invasive procedure.
- Are younger, more potent, and undifferentiated; thereby yielding a higher engraftment rate.
- When put to use, result in lower rates of graft vs. host disease or GvHD, which is a leading cause of stem cell transplant failure.
- Are non-infectious because they are hardly contaminated with latent types of virus.
- Given their primordial nature, it means they are not as exposed to disorders compared to bone marrow stem cells that might have been subjected to several disease processes within a patient’s lifespan.
- Nearly 70% of patients in need of bone marrow transplants are unlucky in finding donors through registries. With umbilical cord blood transplants, this problem is eliminated, most especially now that there are recent advances indicating transplant success even with the use of unmatched HLA cord blood.
HLA matching pertains to a testing criteria used in determining the biological compatibility of both the donor and the recipient. Six proteins are identified to be present on the surface of white blood cells (WBC) as well as other body tissues. An allogeneic cell transplant is only possible if three of these six proteins match. If two patients share a similar HLA, then they are a match in the sense that their tissues are compatible immunologically.
This is the typical complication associated with allogeneic stem cell transplants ( not from the patient themselves). In the case of bone marrow transplants, the recipient’s immune cells may recognize the transplanted cells as a foreign body, thus giving rise to an immunologic attack. This, in turn, results in rejection of the transplanted stem cells. With cord blood transplants, the incidence of GvHD is greatly reduced, as the blood’s immune cells are said to be less reactive compared to those that have been extracted from another source. In autologous transplants (wherein you use your own stem cells), there is zero window for GvHD. This disease is characterized by damages to the skin, mucosa, liver, and gastrointestinal tract. In rare, acute cases, death can be a result.
Viability refers to its state of vitality or “being alive,” which refers to the capability of stem cells to stay vital/potent throughout the processing and storage stages. The rate of success is measured by the “living” stem cell count after processing and laboratory expansion. Viability also extends to the retrieval time of the cells after the thawing process is complete. This measurement is needed for all enriched stem cell therapies as it is used to place a quality measurement on stem cells after the cell extraction, expansion processing and storage procedures.
Potency pertains to power, generally speaking; thus, indicating the strength of stem cells to assume different roles, which must be retained after isolation and processing, and be able to withstand cryogenic stem cell storage. The potency of stem cells may be determined by its capacity to differentiate into a specific cell or tissue variant, as well as its ability to go through extensive proliferative processes.
Early processing and expansion are a critical factor in successful stem cell treatments because it allows our doctors with a greater yield and higher level of quality overall. Our Stem Cell Clinic has clinically proven successful results using enhanced stem cells.
Our scientists collect cell samples in our in-house lab then processed the cells immediately in a closed system environment to eliminate the risk of deterioration and airborne pathogens. Our experience ensures patients that the cells we collect are processed within the acceptable time frame thus assuring a higher-caliber cell transplant ( viability and potency) as well as quantity, yield, and sterility.
Stem Cells can stored or “banked” for use in the future. Stem cell banking refers to our ability to cryogenically store our cells in a safe and sterile manner to maintain their quality. Our stem cell banks have the ability to store stem cells for up to 21 years, however research has shown that our cells can be stored well beyond 21 years that is normally stated provided they are processed appropriately and held under the most suitable storage environments possible
Currently, our stem cell facility in Bangkok Thailand can used to preserve cells for up to 21 years in a monitored cryogenic, liquid nitrogen back up tank.
The stem cells we use in our therapies are rigorously tested for the following after processing and prior to cryogenic preservation:
- Mononuclear count (MNC)
- Mesenchymal cell count
- Stem cell viability
- Absolute CD34+ count
These evaluation procedures are carried out through the use of flow cytometry for accuracy. As proof of analysis, a certificate of test results and proper cellular testing history can be provided to the patients once the cell processing and expansion are complete.
Our stem cell banking facility is located in Bangkok, Thailand. All Stem cell samples are first labeled with unique barcodes to signify the identity of the donor, storage date, and inventory number. For easy retrieval, we use a unique software to automatically track and test samples.
These samples are then stored in a vacuum-insulated storage bins that is filled with the recommended amount of liquid nitrogen specific for use in deep cryogenic storage. These bins can either be cryobags or even vials depending on the need.
All Cryopreservation samples are monitored regularly and a static temperature is maintained with backup systems in place. For liquid nitrogen, the appropriate temperature is -196 degrees Celsius, while for liquid nitrogen vapors the samples are stored at -175 degrees Celsius.
To learn more about our Stem Cells or if you have any other questions please contact us today.