Stem cells are very simply defined. They are a cell that can divide and make two daughter cells, and those daughter cells can differentiate into more than one kind of cell in the body.
Adult stem cells are cells created any time after birth. They include umbilical cord stem cells, bone marrow-derived stem cells and fat-derived stem cells. Non-adult stem cells are embryonic stem cells and come from before birth.
The main difference between embryonic and adult stem cells is that adult stem cells have a limited differentiation capacity. Embryonic stem cells, by definition, are totipotent, which means they can become anything in the body.
Autologous cells are cells that come from a patient. Allogeneic cells are cells from a donor. Allogeneic stem cell therapy has the potential to acutely treat patients when there isn’t time to harvest the patient’s own stem cells (such as a heart attack or stroke). Autologous stem cell therapy should be used for chronic conditions where treatment can be scheduled. Using the patient’s own stem cells limits immune rejection issues that could occur over time.
We use a patient’s own stem cells obtained from adipose (fat) tissue during a liposuction procedure. Stromal vascular fraction (SVF) is a rich mixture of stem cells that we isolate using a closed/sterile, single use cell isolation system that frees stem cells from the fat tissue using an enzyme. This is known as enzyme-derived SVF.
The Okyanos enzymatic process yields a rich mix of mesenchymal stem cells, endothelial cells, and endothelial progenitor cells. These cells are dispersed into a solution that can be used two ways: 1) the cells can be injected into a localized area, treating injured organ or tissue; and 2) the cells can be infused via IV directly to the blood stream, activating the patient’s endogenous stem cell system. Data suggests this combined approach results in better outcomes than either alone.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) has little to do with regenerative treatments involving significant amounts of stem cells. PRP is generated from platelets and the material they release is a mixture of proteins and exosomes that were in the blood at the time it was obtained. PRP provides no living cells, and only a tiny amount of stem cells found in the bloodstream at any given time.Both the rich yield of stem cells and the mix of cell types derived from adipose tissue make stromal vascular fraction (SVF) superior. Through an enzymatic process, SVF provides mesenchymal stem cells, endothelial progenitor cells and endothelial cells. Studies show this mix of stem cells is more effective than single stem cell types. These are living cells that survive for some period of time and continue to release proteins and factors into the tissue, which promotes a broader spectrum of tissue repair.
The stem cells in SVF and bone marrow are similar – both have mesenchymal stem cells and endothelial progenitor cells. However, as we age, the stem cell capacity of bone marrow is diminished, while that of adipose (fat) tissue remains robust. At any age, the percentage of mesenchymal stem cells is much greater in adipose tissue, so SVF delivers a more powerful mesenchymal stem cell number, along with the endothelial and endothelial progenitor cells.
With SVF, patients are treated with their own cells (autologous cell therapy) vs. those of another individual’s baby umbilicus (allogeneic cell therapy). Clinical trials show that older stem cells can be as easily and potently activated as younger stem cells, so there is no reason to choose someone else’s cells. In fact, particularly in the cardiac space, recent studies suggest that the response to SVF autologous cell therapy is superior to allogeneic cell therapy. This is especially true in treating chronic conditions.
There is clear evidence that adult stem cell therapy done by competent physicians, well-schooled in the latest techniques, is safe. Fifteen years ago, there was a real cancer risk concern with adult stem cell therapy. That has not been demonstrated in the dozens, if not hundreds, of clinical trials to date.
Stromal vascular fraction (SVF) is associated with a good safety record. The risk of SVF is associated with liposuction, which is done hundreds of times a day, and that risk is ultimately associated with the liposuction wound itself. Remember, lots of people have liposuction, not for stem cells, but for cosmetic reasons. So, liposuction is deemed a safe procedure.