Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ

What are stem cells?

The term ‘stem cell’ refers to any cell that can not only replicate, but also further differentiate to form several types of tissue. Stem cells may be categorized depending on their origin.

What types of stem cells are there?

Embryonic stem cells are extracted from the blastocyst, an embryonic stage reached shortly before implantation into the uterus. They have yet to differentiate, and are therefore pluripotent, meaning they are able to change into any type of cell. The use of embryonic stem cells causes much controversy, as their isolation leads to demolition of the blastocyst. Apart from ethical issues, occasional tumor (teratoma) formations have been noted after treatment with embryonic stem cells, conducted in facilities particularly outside of the United States. Several companies are currently looking into the isolation of particular lines of these pluripotent cells, so that they may be increasingly used for therapeutic purposes in the future.

Adult stem cells are also undifferentiated, but reside in the juvenile as well as adult body. They harbor the potential to renew the entire tissue from which they originate with just a few cells. Here ethical issues are of no concern, as these cells may be extracted without jeopardizing the subject. Most popular for therapeutic use are the bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells, ‘mesenchymal’ because they reside in tissue that originally comes from mesoderm. This includes bones, cartilage, muscle and connective tissue, nerves, blood vessels, as well as fat. Bone marrow-derived stem cells may be cultured and multiplied for future use, as they are low in number. A suitable alternative is the extraction of adipose-derived stem cells, as fat contains significantly more mesenchymal stem cells compared to bone marrow.

How do adult stem cells work in the healing process?

Adult stem cells remain dormant as so called ‘progenitor’ cells until they register tissue injury. Then they embark to the lesion and stimulate the healing process. Whether these multipotent cells develop into the original tissue themselves or induce the repair by another mechanism is still unclear, but multiple animal models and a plethora of human evidence irrevocably prove their usefulness in the reparation process.

Which conditions can be treated with stem cell therapy?

Due to the ability of stem cells to differentiate into and reconstruct multiple types of tissue when damage occurs, their application in the treatment process of almost every disease or injury is warranted. However, stem cell therapy is better researched for some diseases than for others. In addition, as with every treatment, the chance for success depends largely on the patient himself. This includes progression of the disease, whether it is acute or chronic, and to what extent other organs and functional systems have been compromised. Age, body type, as well as general well being of the patient also play a role.

At Anova, specialists evaluate advantages, disadvantages and chances of success in order to determine whether a patient is a potential candidate for stem cell therapy. Although the procedure is minimally invasive, all patients are medically cleared in advance.

Are there any guarantees that stem cell treatment works for me?

The honest answer to this question is no, there is never a guarantee for success in any medical treatment. This is no different for renown or novel treatments, such as stem cell therapy. A number of factors determine success, such as state of the patient, complexity of the disease, as well as interaction of the stem cells with the patients’ immune system. However, stem cells are well researched by now, and thousands of successful applications worldwide prove their meaningfulness in the treatment of a wide variety of diseases.

What kinds of stem cells are used at Anova IRM?

All stem cell treatments entail the use of adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), easily obtained from subcutaneous fat or bone marrow. Harvesting the stem cells from the patients’ own body ensures no adverse immunological reaction or transfer of diseases when the stem cells are re-administered. At Anova, we use stem cells from bone marrow or the secretome from adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells.

Is the application of stem cells at Anova Stem Cell Center safe?

Numerous phase I and II studies have proven that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are safe for medical application, while several phase III studies are currently carried out. Neither tumor formation nor a threatening immune response could be observed. It comes to show that stem cells may not only be harvested from and re-implanted into the same individual (‘homologous’ MSCs), although this is particularly safe because the stem cells do not trigger immunological response and cannot act as vectors for infections from graft to host; MSCs may also be safely allografted, meaning the extraction from a human donor and injection into a genetically different human recipient, without causing rejection or diseases.

How does stem cell treatment work?

At Anova IRM mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) may be obtained from two different sites: bone marrow and subcutaneous fat.

Bone marrow-derived stem cells are harvested under local anesthesia. A hollow needle is inserted into a specific site of the pelvic bone, the posterior superior iliac protrusion, passing skin and subcutaneous tissue. Bone marrow is then extracted using a syringe, and processed on site while the patient remains sedated. Next, the processed MSCs, as well as fluid containing the secretome (cytokines, microvesicles, mRNA, etc.), are re-injected into the patient. This procedure typically causes no pain, when performed with caution and by an expert.

MSCs from subcutaneous fat are extracted via nutational liposuction, which allows the removal of fat without stem cell destruction and requires only light sedation. First, ‘tumescent’ anesthesia is performed, meaning the infiltration of subcutaneous tissue with diluted local anesthetic. The fat is now pervaded with large quantities of saline (sodium chloride) solution. Next, the fat-saline mix is removed from the subcutaneous space and sampled for further processing. Processing includes enzymatic activity that separates fat tissue from the adipose-derived stem cells. Not all countries allow this method of separation.

What is the legal vantage point concerning treatment with adult stem cells?

Laws concerning organ transplants (a collection of tissue working together as a functional unit) as well as pharmaceutical drugs (substances that present properties for treating and preventing disease) are implemented in every country. Stem cells, however, do not definitely belong to any of the two categories, as they are single cells deriving from any tissue, as well as producing a variety of active substances, depending on the microenvironment to which they are exposed.

Because statute has oftentimes not yet adapted to this situation, the use of stem cells for medical purposes is restricted in many countries. Obtaining permission means lengthy evaluation processes for doctors, hospitals and companies. Some countries, however, including Japan and Oman, have adjusted laws or drawn up draft bills in order to make use of the tremendous potential of stem cells for medical treatment.

Anova makes stem cell therapy available for all patients by working within the legal framework of countries that support the use of MSCs, whilst adhering to the rigorous quality specifications of German and Swiss ‘good laboratory practice’ (GLP), ‘good manufacturing practice’ (GMP), ISO, as well as our internal quality standards. 

Patient Services at Anova IRM Stem Cell Center

Located in the Center of Germany

Less than 20 minutes from Frankfurt Airport

Personalized Therapies for Your Improvement with State-of-the-art Stem Cell products and latest Regenerative Medical Programs

100% Guarantee on Cutting-edge, safe and high quality stem cell products with 20-times increased cell counts

Highest Precision with Latest Radiological Imaging Modalities for Superior Image Guided Procedures

Diagnostic Work-ups with World-Class MRI scans, Advanced Blood Analysis programs and Check-up

Personal Service with Friendly, Dedicated Professional Patient Care Managers

Scientific Collaborations with Renowned Academic Institutions

Scientific Data Acquisition and Publishing

Travel Visa and Concierge Service

Code of Operation, Integrity, Ethical and Legal Framework

Anova IRM works strictly within the German and European legal framework in an ongoing dialog with the German Governement’s regulatory bodies. Use and strategy of any therapy is decided on an individual basis and explicit informed consent with the patient. The Anova clinic operates in full ISO9001 compliance.

Regierungspräsidium Hessen: Darmstadt regional authority
Paul Ehrlich Institute: Federal regulatory authority
European Medicines Agency: Laying down Community procedures for the authorisation and supervision of medicinal products for human and veterinary use
Gesetz über den Verkehr mit Arzneimitteln (Arzneimittelgesetz - AMG): Legal framework for trafficing pharmacutical products
Good Manufacturing Practice: Laying down the principles and guidelines of good manufacturing practice in respect of medicinal products for human use and investigational medicinal products for human use
Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products: Amending Directive 2001/83/EC and Regulation (EC) No 726/2004
Good Clinical Practice: Laying down principles and detailed guidelines for good clinical practice as regards investigational medicinal products for human use. Also regulating clinical trials for human use.
ISO9001: Defining fundamentals of quality systems, among others for medical institutes.
Medicinal Product for human use: Amending Directive 2001/83/EC on the Community code
Medical Devices: Council Directive regulating medical devices

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