STEM CELL FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is Regenerative Medicine?

A:  Regenerative Medicine is a new and advancing clinical effort focused on the repair and regeneration of damaged tissue utilizing stem cells.

Q: What are adult stem cells?

A: Adult stem cells are unspecialized or undifferentiated cells, capable of two processes: self-renewal and differentiation. They are vital to maintaining tissues in the body such as internal organs, skin, and blood.

Q: Are there different types of adult stem cells?

A: Yes, there are many types of adult stem cells found in the body, which have variable differentiation potentials. The multipotent, mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) is one of the adult stem cells that supports the repair of damaged tissue.

Q: Where do adult stem cells come from?

A: In adults, stem cells are present within various tissues and organ systems, but the most accessible locations for MSCs are the bone marrow and adipose (fat) tissue.

Other sources include the liver, epidermis, retina, skeletal muscle, intestine, brain, placenta, umbilical cord and dental pulp.

Q: What is the difference between adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells?

A: Adult stem cells are found in mature adult tissues including bone marrow and fat, while embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are not found in the adult human body. ESCs are obtained from donated embryos provided during in vitro fertilization procedures, which raises many ethical concerns.  Because ESCs are not autologous, there is a possibility of immune rejection. Adult stem cells do not raise ethical issues nor pose any risks for immune rejection.

Q: Does Dr. Paez use embryonic stem cells in clinical procedures?

A: No, Dr. Paez’s approach to cell therapy relies only on autologous adult stem cells isolated from the patient during the therapeutic procedure.  He does not participate in embryonic stem cell research or use embryonic stem cells in clinical applications.

Q: Are there ethical issues associated with harvesting adult stem cells?

A: No, adult stem cells do not raise ethical questions as they are harvested from the patient’s body.

Q: Are there cancer-causing risks associated with adult stem cell treatments?

A: No. While embryonic stem cells have been shown to form teratomas (germ cell tumors), there is no data that suggests adult stem cells have the same potential to promote the development of tumors. In fact, a recently published report showed that there was no risk for tumor formation at the site of autologous bone marrow concentrate injection in a study of 1,873 patients who were treated for orthopedic diseases with an average follow up of 12.5 years.

Q: How does Dr. Paez obtain adult stem cells for use in cell treatment?

A: Dr. Paez obtains the cell material by aspirating bone marrow from your hip bone during your therapeutic procedure. .

Q: Are the harvested adult stem cells expanded in a laboratory setting prior to delivery back to the patient?

A: No, Dr. Paez does not use in vitro expansion. The bone marrow aspirate is obtained, placed in a sterile device, centrifuged and the adult stem cells are recovered, all of which happens close to the treatment room.

Q: How are adult stem cells used in therapeutic procedures?

A: Adult stem cells are used to treat patients with damaged tissues due to the aging process or trauma. During a procedure, stem cells are isolated from the patient, concentrated and delivered back to the site of injury to assist in the healing process.

Q: How do stem cells know what type of tissue to develop into?

A: The differentiation of stem cells is dependent on many factors, including cell signaling and micro-environmental signals. So, the stem cells are very sensitive to the micro-environment in which they are placed. Based on these cues, the stem cells will respond as appropriate, including the potential to develop into healthy tissue needed to repair damaged tissue. For example, multipotent stem cells delivered to damaged bone will promote the development of bone cells to aid in tissue repair.

Q: Will my body reject the stem cells?

A: No, since the cells are obtained from your body (autologous) and processed quickly at point-of-care, they will not be rejected.

Q: Is stem cell therapy safe?

A: Yes, and ask your doctor what clinical studies have been done to show that stem cells are safe and effective.

Q: How long will the stem cells last?

A: It will depend on your injury, the area that is treated and your response to the therapy.

Q: What is the difference between autologous and allogeneic cells?

A: Autologous cells are taken from the same patient, typically at point-of-care. Allogeneic cells are taken from a donor and often are manipulated before they are given to a  patient.

Q: How much will it cost?

A: The cost of the stem cell portion of the therapy isn’t covered by insurance companies, so ask your doctor for payment options.