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Personalized Cell Therapy


One of the most promising fields of medical research involves cell therapy that’s personalized for every patient. These new treatments, which have shown great promise in clinical trials, could lead to exciting new possibilities across the health and beauty spectrum.

In Tijuana, Regenerative Medicine Institute (RMI) is conducting clinical trials using adult stem cells to treat a variety of conditions ranging from heart disease and Parkinson’s to joint problems resulting from orthopedic injuries and arthritis.

At RMI, which complies with emerging FDA and NIH standards, patients settle in at the state-of-the-art Hospital Angeles, where stem cells are drawn from their own fat and separated. About an hour later, the stem cells are ready to be reintroduced to targeted areas of the body. The stem cells then divide, recruit new stem cells, and seek out damaged tissue to help regenerate new, healthy tissue.

RMI has treated high-profile patients, including former NFL player Bart Oates, who saw three Super Bowl wins and now serves as president of the NFL Alumni Association Medical Alliance. For more information about stem cells and how they relate to heart disease, you can join RMI for an informal lecture at 6pm on February 1, at the DoubleTree in Del Mar. (619/421-0700)

“We have this whole new category of giving patients living cells to replace or fix or ameliorate problems,” says Stacy R. Smith, MD, a Del Mar dermatologist who has conducted clinical acne scar trials with a cell therapy known as LaViv.

LaViv is the first and only FDA-approved therapy that uses your own collagen-producing cells (called fibroblasts) to improve the look of smile lines — those pesky nasolabial folds typically treated with fillers like Restylane or Juvederm.

For this approved treatment, a small piece of skin is biopsied and sent to a company, where it is grown into a large population of fibroblasts, which are the predominant cell types in the non-superficial layers of the skin. Then they’re injected.

“When you have fillers, you get the injection and you see immediate results, but the effectiveness decreases as time goes on and the product degrades,” explains Smith. “The opposite is true with the cells. They tend to make collagen and elastic tissue and all those good things that are part of your skin. It takes some time, but then you continue to see improvement.”

In addition to acne scar trials, researchers are hoping LaViv will lead to breakthroughs with burned skin, which can be extremely tight and uncomfortable after it heals. Beyond that, we can only imagine what personalized cell treatments might accomplish in the future.   ANNAMARIA STEPHENS


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