Stem technology

The emergence and advance of regenerative medicine, in which we can treat disorders using our own tissues and cells, is something which has long been awaited. This approach to treatment is an incredibly significant innovation in medicine. Today there is almost no area of medicine in which stem cells have not found a use – in healing wounds, chronic degenerative diseases, degenerative nerve diseases, sports injuries, diabetes, autoimmune illnesses, cardiovascular diseases, blood disorders, burns, scar treatment, rejuvenation and many other areas. There are three types of stem cell – embryonic, umbilical cord and adult stem cells, found in the fatty tissues. In addition to fatty (adipose) tissue, from which it is relatively easy to isolate them, these pluripotent cells can be found in the bone marrow and the blood. The idea behind regenerative medicine is to use these adult stem cells and research all the areas in which they might find a use.

 

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Stem ćelije su veoma aktuelna tema u svetskoj štampi

 

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are pluripotent cells with the significant ability to differentiate and renew themselves when they are located in certain tissues. Around a decade ago medical science made the revolutionary discovery that these cells can be found in the person’s own fatty tissues, and can be isolated from there in various ways. This opened the way for doctors to begin researching new possibilities. Today they are used all over the world for several hundred different medical indications. Each of these applications has needed to undergo very clearly defined clinical studies in order to be sure of two important things: that any therapy using these cells is safe, and that it is effective.

 

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How do we isolate stem cells?

Fatty (adipose) tissues are a source of these cells which is very readily available to plastic surgeons for harvesting and further use. The technique of liposuction is used to take a small quantity of adipose tissue (fat) from the patient. This can be done under local anaesthetic or a combination of local anaesthesia and analgosedation, and takes around thirty minutes. Patients can return to everyday and sporting activities after the procedure, even the same day. After the fat is taken it is further processed using a special device called the Celution, which is currently the state-of-the-art device for isolating stem cells, particularly when considering the two most important criteria relating to the stem cells themselves – the number harvested and their viability. After around two hours, a sample of regenerative cells is obtained, also containing stem cells.

 

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Stem cells and hair loss treatment

The hair follicles also contain stem cells and it is thought that further research will lead to ways of treating hair loss by activating these stem cells. It is thought that stem cells are to be found in the part of the hair called the dermal papilla, but also almost the entire length of the hair up to the skin surface, and especially close to the sebaceous gland (the bulge). This discovery has prompted further research aimed at discovering how the existing stem cells of the follicles might be activated. So the main focus of ongoing research has been just that: to find out what could wake up these “sleeping” follicles. It is also thought that in gradual hair loss (typical in androgenetic alopecia), this layer of stem cells gets thinner. In 2012 a team of researchers from the University of Tokyo made a breakthrough in their research into the stem potential of the follicles, succeeding in stimulating new hair growth in laboratory mice. It therefore seems likely that lost hair has not died, but is merely in a passive state and needs stimulation to resume growth. It is also known that people who are losing their hair are also losing the layer of subcutaneous fat in this area, and so one treatment strategy is to rejuvenate the site using fat transfer. Fat transfer causes angiogenesis – the formation of new blood vessels – which is extremely beneficial for the renewal of the follicles.

The isolated regenerative cells from the fatty tissue are injected into the region in which the hair is thinning or missing. A fat transfer procedure should be performed before this. Since the process uses autologous cells (the body’s own), there is no risk of side-effects – allergic reactions or cellular rejection – nor of any infection or irritation. The treatment is only carried out once.

 

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The procedure comprises 3 steps:

  • Liposuction – harvesting fatty tissue
  • Enzymatic cell isolation
  • Injection of cells into the regions affected by hair loss

The hair can already be washed the following day, and the patient can go straight back to their everyday activities. The timeline of results is as follows:

  • after a month: hair loss slows,
  • after two months: improved appearance of hair
  • after three months: hairs become thicker and new hair begins to gradually grow

The expected results of therapy are as follows:

  • growth of healthy hair is stimulated;
  • growth of weak and ageing follicles is stimulated;
  • the process of hair loss is arrested and prevented;
  • inflammation is reduced in the regions of hair loss;
  • circulation to the hair follicles is improved;
  • the quality of thin and damaged hairs is improved;
  • there is new hair growth.

 

US Kerastem study into stem cells and alopecia (hair loss) treatment

America is in many ways at the forefront of regenerative medicine, and a variety of clinical trials are being conducted around the country in order to determine the effectiveness of these therapies in treating a range of illnesses. One of these is a trial into the treatment of hair loss, ongoing since December 2015 in four selected centres – Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey and Miami. The study will monitor 75 patients who have been divided into four groups to receive four different stem cell treatments, while one group is the control or placebo group. This study, approved by the FDA (the US Food and Drugs Administration), will carefully monitor the effects of these therapies – extent of new hair growth, change in hair thickness, change in hair density, time to first results, and others. The study has been sponsored by a US company with a long history in regenerative medicine, and the latest equipment is being used for the procedure: Tulip atraumatic cannulas, Puregraft for handling fatty tissues, Celution for isolation of regenerative cells, and a state-of-the-art cell counter. Dr Gorana Kuka is one of a total of five doctors conducting this study in the US, as director of the research department of a clinic in Miami.

 

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Dr Gorana Kuka is part of the research team conducting the stem cell study in Miami;

 

Stem cell therapy is now available in Serbia, too. The same medical equipment used in the US is also now available in Belgrade, where cell treatments can now be conducted. Dr Gorana Kuka is always among the first to learn of news and innovations in hair loss treatment. And so cell therapy in hair loss treatment, performed to US protocols, is now also available to patients in Serbia.

 

What do you need to know before deciding on stem cell therapy to treat hair loss?

  • Get to know the doctor who will carry out your procedure. Don’t forget that the procedure includes liposuction, so it is important that you use a cosmetic surgery specialist who can ensure the results of liposuction are aesthetically pleasing.
  • Your doctor needs to be very familiar with the physiology and pathology of hair growth and loss in order to be able to objectively assess the expected results of the therapy.
  • Find out what equipment (medical devices) your doctor uses. There are different devices available for isolating regenerative/stem cells, but the absolute leader among them is the Celution.
  • Differentiate between the following treatments:
    1. PRP – Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy
    2. PFT – Purified Fat Transfer therapy
    3. Enriched Purified Fat Transfer with PRP (EPFT) – fat transfer therapy enriched with growth factors
    4. Stem Cell Therapy – therapy using isolated stem cells, most often in combination with the patient’s own fat.

 

Each of these therapies has its own distinctive features and it is important to understand the differences between them.

 

  • To be a candidate for stem cell therapy you need to have a little excess fatty tissue (in the stomach, waist or hips) which we can use to isolate regenerative cells.
  • Before opting for stem cell treatment it is important that we determine the cause of the hair loss. For now, stem cells are being used to treat androgenetic alopecia and are showing potential in treating alopecia areata, while Purified Fat Transfer therapy could have a role to play in treating scarring alopecia and, together with hair transplantation, in treating scarring.

 

For more information contact our team and we can provide answers to all your questions. Find out whether you are a candidate for this procedure at: info@haircenter.rs