skip to Main Content

We have created the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) regarding Stem Cells, the procedure and Olympus Stem Cells.

Stem cells are any cell that can replicate and differentiate.

There are different kinds of stem cells and some people may have heard the term “embryonic stem cell.”

These are cells from the embryonic stage that have yet to differentiate – as such, they can change into any body part at all.

These are then called “pluri-potential” cells and are derived from embryos. Olympus Stem Cells do not use embryonic stem cells but uses “adult stem cells” which we separate and process from your own body. We do not use any other persons tissue.

“Adult stem cells” already reside in one’s body within different tissues. They may be sourced from bone-marrow or fat derived stem cells. These are also known as “mesenchymal stem cells” because they come from the mesodermal section of your body. They can change into bone and cartilage and probably all other elements such as fat, connective tissue, blood vessels, muscle and nerve tissue.

Olympus Stem Cells uses your own body fat which are loaded with mesenchymal stem cells. In fact fat has hundreds if not thousands of times more stem cells compared to bone marrow. Today we have scientific equipment that allow us to separate the stem cells from fat. Our equipment is based at Sydney Olympic Park and The North Shore Specialist Day Hospital, St. Leonards, Sydney, Australia. This hospital is owned and managed by Virtus Health Limited. Virtus Health specialise in IVF treatment and as such the equipment, techniques and application are kept to a standard that ensures compliance with State and Federal health regulations to enable accreditation with The Australian Council of Healthcare Standards.

Because most people have adequate fat supplies and the numbers of stem cells are so great, there is no need to culture the cells over a period of days and they can be used right away. Indeed the harvesting of the fat is done under local anaesthetic at Sydney Olympic Park or in an operating theatre at North Shore Specialist Day Hospital, the stem cells separated in our on-site laboratory and then used via injection into the affected area.

On the converse, bone marrow stem cells can also be extracted but because they are low in numbers they are usually cultured in order to multiply their numbers for future use. The surgeons that harvest the fat also have great experience in harvesting bone for other applications, eg bone grafts. In general fat harvesting to extract the “Mesenchymal Stem Cells’ is acknowledged the world over to be an appropriate and suitable technique.

Stem cells are harvested under sterile conditions using a special “closed system” technology so that the cells never come into contact with the environment throughout the entire process from removal to deployment. Sterile technique and antibiotics may also used to prevent infection. At Sydney Olympic Park or The North Shore Specialist Day Hospital Olympus Stem Cells operates under a code known as “Australian Council of Healthcare Standards” accreditation policy for hospitals and day surgeries and the RACGP.

No.

At Olympus Stem Cell we do not add any foreign substances or medications to the stem cells.

The adipose derived stem cell harvesting and isolation technique yields extremely high numbers of stem cells. The cells are actually in a mixture called Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF) which are stem cells bathed in a rich mixture of natural growth factors (Not the same as human growth factor hormone which is only one type of growth factor). The Stem Cells are then injected back into the area of your body where the disease process is to act locally.

Stem cell therapy has shown considerable promise in treating many degenerative conditions. It should be noted that Stem Cell therapy is still not officially approved for the treatment of any condition by the TGA (Australia) or FDA (USA). Stem cells communicate with our tissues and with each other through a complex system of protein signaling molecules called cytokines or “growth factors.” The science of using growth factors with stem cells is evolving and represents the next main area of growth in regenerative medicine. Traditionally, we have used various medications and hormones to limit disease and help the body repair itself. For example, hormone replacement therapy has, in many cases, shown the ability to more optimally help the immune system and thus help us repair diseased or injured tissues.

Recent advances in stem cell science have made it possible to obtain high numbers of very excellent quality multi-potent (able to form numerous other tissues) MSC (Mesenchymal stem cells) cells from a person’s own fat via a procedure known as liposuction. Olympus Stem Cells process this fat to yield approximately five hundred thousand to one million stem cells per cc of fat, and therefore, it is possible to obtain as many as 10 to 40 million cells from a single treatment. These adipose derived stem cells can form many different types of cells when deployed properly including bone, cartilage, tendon (connective tissue), muscle, blood vessels, nerve tissue and others. Bone marrow sampling (a somewhat uncomfortable but straight forward procedure) yields approximately 5,000 – 60,000 cells that are then cultured over several days to perhaps a few million cells prior to deployment (injection into the patient).

Adult stem cells are known as “progenitor” cells. This means they remain dormant (do nothing) unless they witness some level of tissue injury. It’s the tissue injury that turns them on. So, when a person has a degenerative type problem, the stem cells tend to go to that area of need and stimulate the healing process. We’re still not sure if they simply change into the type of injured tissue needed for repair or if they send out signals that induces the repair by some other mechanism. Suffice it to say that there are multiple animal models and a plethora of human evidence that indicates these are significant reparative cells.

Mesenchymal Stem Cells from adults are undifferentiated cells that have the ability to replace dying cells and regenerate damaged tissue. These cells seek out areas of injury, disease and destruction where they are capable of regenerating healthy cells and enabling a person’s natural healing processes to be accelerated. As we gain a deeper understanding of their medical function and apply this knowledge, we are realizing their enormous therapeutic potential to help the body heal itself. Adult stem cells have been used for a variety of medical treatments to repair and regenerate acute and chronicially damaged tissues in humans and animals.

The use of stem cells is not TGA (Australia) or FDA (USA) approved for the treatment of any specific disease in Australia or the United States at this time and their use is therefore investigational.

Many reputable international centers have been using stem cell therapy to treat various chronic degenerative conditions as diverse as severe neurologic diseases, renal failure, erectile dysfunction, degenerative orthopedic problems, and even cardiac and pulmonary diseases to name a few. Adult stem cells appear to be particularly effective at repairing cartilage in degenerated joints. Olympus Stem cells restricts itself at present to treat muscloskeletal disorders and pain syndromes that have been evaluated by a professional.

Mesenchymal Stem Cells from adults are undifferentiated cells that have the ability to replace dying cells and regenerate damaged tissue. These cells seek out areas of injury, disease and destruction where they are capable of regenerating healthy cells and enabling a person’s natural healing processes to be accelerated. As we gain a deeper understanding of their medical function and apply this knowledge, we are realizing their enormous therapeutic potential to help the body heal itself. Adult stem cells have been used for a variety of medical treatments to repair and regenerate acute and chronicially damaged tissues in humans and animals.

The use of stem cells is not TGA (Australia) or FDA (USA) approved for the treatment of any specific disease in Australia or the United States at this time and their use is therefore investigational.

Many reputable international centers have been using stem cell therapy to treat various chronic degenerative conditions as diverse as severe neurologic diseases, renal failure, erectile dysfunction, degenerative orthopedic problems, and even cardiac and pulmonary diseases to name a few. Adult stem cells appear to be particularly effective at repairing cartilage in degenerated joints. Olympus Stem cells restricts itself at present to treat muscloskeletal disorders and pain syndromes that have been evaluated by a professional.

This will depend on the type of degenerative condition you have. As Olympus Stem Cells treats pain syndromes, dry eyes, dry mouth and musculoskeletal disorders this will include arthritis, tendon, muscle injuries and generalised pain syndromes that have become refractory to conventional treatments. A generalist, specialist, or both will evaluate you and discuss whether you’re a potential candidate for stem cell therapy. If after you’ve been recommended for treatment, had an opportunity to understand the potential risks and benefits, and decided on your own that you would like to explore this avenue of treatment, then you can be considered for treatment. Of course, even though it’s a minimally invasive procedure, you will still need to be medically cleared for the procedure.

Many patients have been told that they require surgery such as joint replacements or other treatments for their ailments and are looking for options. Some have heard about the compelling testimonials about stem cells in the literature and on various websites. Many have read about the results of stem cell treatments in animal models and in humans. Olympus Stem Cells does not believe in claims or testimonials since our work is still investigational but we are a resource for patients who need access to regenerative care. We concur with the TGA and FDA that until further scientific work is published that the use of Stem Cells is investigational.

Olympus Stem Cells knows of no documented cases personally where serious harm has resulted from the injection of stem cells.

Associate Professor E. Russell Vickers has published in The Journal of Pain Research , 2017, where he injected Stem Cells into the Head and Neck to investigate and treat patients with facial pain that were refractory to all other treatments. This study did not cause any patients to have side effects despite the higher incidence of important structures in the face versus the knee and wrist.

All patients will be entered into a database run by A/Professor E.Russell Vickers to follow and report any adverse reactions. This information is vital to the development of stem cell science. The International Stem Cell Society registry has over 1,000 cases currently registered and only 2% of the treatments were associated with any complications, none of which were considered “serious adverse events.”

No.

Stem cells have played an important role in cancer therapy for five decades. Hematopoetic stem cells (similar to mesenchymal stem cells and also found in stromal vascular fraction) have been used to restore bone marrow and replace blood cell lines after planned ablation of a cancer patient’s bone marrow. This is known as a “stem cell transplant” and is associated with significant risk to cancer patients. Of course this is different than a regenerative therapy using stem cells to replace or repair damaged tissue. Having said that, new advances in cancer therapy have exploited stem cell property known as “TROPISM” which is the ability of stem cells to target tumors. This property has been used to help carry cancer killing agents deep into the cancer where the body’s immune system cannot always operate effectively. Olympus Stem Cells do not treat patients with cancer treatments and recommend they be referred to mainstream hospitals.

Adult mesenchymal stem cells are not known to cause cancer. Some patients have heard of stories of cancer caused by stem cells, but these are probably related to the use of embryonic cells (Not Adult Mesenchymal Cells). These embryonic tumors known as teratomas are rare but possible occurrences when embryonic cells are used.

Stem cell therapy is thought to be safe and not affect dormant cancers. If someone has had cancer that was treated and responded successfully, there is no reason to withhold stem cell deployment. In most cases, stem cells should not be used in patients with known active cancer outside of an active protocol.

NO, it is not approved.

However, Olympus Stem Cell’s surgical procedures fall under the category of physician’s practice of medicine, wherein the physician and patient are free to consider their chosen course of treatment. The TGA does have guidelines about treatment and manipulation of a patient’s own tissues. At Olympus we meet these guidelines by providing same day treatment with the patient’s own cells that undergo no manipulation and are inserted during the same procedure at North Shore Specialist Day Hospital.

No.

Only autologous (self) adult mesenchymal stem cells are used. These cells are capable of forming bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, ligaments, blood vessels, and certain organs.

No.

Only certain medical problems (musculoskeletal injuries and disease) are currently being treated at Olympus Stem Cell. All patients need to be medically stable enough to have the treatment in our facility at Sydney Olympic Park or at The North Shore Specialist Day Hospital. There may be some exceptional conditions that may eventually be treated in hospitalized patients, but that remains for the future. Some patients may be declined due to the severity of their problem. Other patients may not have conditions appropriate to treat or may not be covered by our generalist, specialists or our protocols.

Patients with uncontrolled cancer are excluded. If you have an active infection anywhere in your body you must be treated first. Severely ill patients may require special consideration. Also, anyone with a bleeding disorder or who takes blood thinning medications requires special evaluation before consideration for stem cells.

There is a $195 charge for a generalist/specialist consultation which will take 30 minutes. A review appointment is $150.

If the Generalist orders scans or x rays then these are done at an X ray facility and will be charged by the radiologist. There may be a Medicare rebate on CT’s and X rays. In many cases if an MRI is required then there is usually a co-payment.

If the Generalist decides there are aspects of the diagnosis that require further investigation they may refer you to an Olympus Orthopaedic Surgeon or Pain Specialist (Rehabilitation Physician or Rheumatologist).

If you proceed with treatment and a surgery date is booked you will also consult with an Olympus psychologist and scientist. There is no charge for these consultations as they are inclusive of the surgical fee. You will be given a definitive cost estimate and a 50% deposit is required to secure a surgical date. If you permanently cancel the date within a 2 week notice period you will be refunded half of your deposit.

Treatment charges for Stem Cells start from $8,000 and depend on the location of the disease(s) and technical aspects associated with the treatment. For instance the head/neck/jaw joint are more difficult than the knee owing to the size of the joint. There may be multiple joints or locations that require the stem cells and for some back pain patients then image intensification is required during the procedure which is more lengthy and detailed. There are no medicare or private hospital rebates associated with Stem Cell treatment.

Day hospital charges apply if being treated in a day hospital and are billed separately by The North Shore Specialist Day Hospital (www.nssdh.com.au)

Olympus does not do fat harvesting and stem cell treatment at clinics other than Sydney Olympic Park or at day hospitals licensed by The Australian Council of Healthcare Standards (or equivalent ISO 9001). We do undertake blood collection and PRP/PRF injections at our medical centres at Lane Cove, Rosebery and Sydney Olympic Park.

If you have been injured at work you will need to discuss it with your insurer whether they will cover the cost.

Olympus patients undergo a minimally-invasive liposuction type of harvesting procedure by a Proceduralist/Surgeon in our specialized treatment facility at Sydney Olympic Park or The North Shore Specialist Day Hospital. The harvesting procedure generally lasts 30-60 minutes and can be done under local anaesthesia and/or sedation. Stromal Vascular Fraction SVF which contains mesenchymal stem cells and growth factors are then processed from fat using a closed sterile system to avoid contact with the environment. SVF is ready for deployment within 90 minutes or less.

Once the stem cells have been isolate by our scientist and depending on the type of treatment required, stem cells can be injected subcutaneously, or directly into joints or organs. All of these are considered minimally invasive methods of introducing the stem cells.

Most patients, especially those with orthopedic conditions, require only one deployment. Certain types of degenerative conditions, particularly auto-immune disease, may respond best to a series of stem cell deployments. The number and necessity of any additional treatments would be decided on a case by case basis.

Different conditions are treated in different ways and there are different degrees of success. If the goal is regeneration of joint cartilage, one may not see expected results until several months after treatment. Some patients may not experience significant improvement and others may see dramatic regeneration of damaged tissue or resolution of disease.

At Olympus we do not make any claims about expectations for success, however, if you are chosen for treatment, it will be explained that we believe stem cell therapy may be beneficial or in some cases that we are unsure and treatment would be considered investigational.

Yes, you can freeze stem cells.

Your cells could represent an important form of “bio-insurance.” Producing your cells after an “elective” mini-liposuction during a convenient time that you choose has several advantages. Your stem cells from fat tissue are frozen in the form of SVF which is derived from processing your fat. SVF is also known as Stromal Vascular Fraction. This is derived from the liposuction and digestion of the loose connective tissue that surrounds small blood vessels and fat. This connective tissue binds mesenchymal stem cells including cells that are destined to become blood vessels and fat but can be diverted for repair and regeneration of numerous tissues around the body including nerve, muscle, blood vessel, bone, and many more. In addition to these stem cells, there are abundant white blood cells, lymphocytes, immune cells, growth factors, and other cell types such as red blood cells, endothelial cells and epithelial cells.

Back To Top