Cellular Therapeutics Laboratory
Marking its milestone first year of delivering superior cancer care to patients, Makati Medical Center’s Cancer Center—one of the hospital’s centers for excellence—pioneers another innovative advancement in healthcare with the launch of its Cellular Therapeutics Laboratory. With this impressive state-of-the-art facility, a new treatment paradigm becomes available to Filipinos.
Fitted with world-class equipment from Germany, Japan, and the USA, the lab will offer a wide range of services that boast the remarkable efficacy of stem cells.
What are stem cells? What is stem cell technology?
Stem cells are unspecialized cells that have the potential to develop into different cell types in the body. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential to either remain a stem cell, or develop into another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a red blood cell or a brain cell. In some organs, stem cells serve as an internal repair system, dividing to repair and replace worn out or damaged tissues.
Stem cell technology provides an innovative approach to utilize stem cells for clinical applications. Clinicians and scientists are looking at the potential of using stem cells to treat a number of conditions, including Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, spinal cord injury, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.
Bone marrow transplant for leukemia patients is an excellent example of stem cell technology.
Is it safe?
Use of your own (autologous) stem cells, like the ones derived from your blood or your bone marrow, is very safe. Several studies have demonstrated support for its safety.
The scientific community continues to conduct clinical trials using stem cells to ensure its safety.
What are its side effects, if any?
When the treatment is administered via skin injection, you may experience discomfort such as thickening or hardening of the skin at the site of injection. In some cases, stem cells are administered intravenously or directly into the target tissue.
Why should I undergo stem cell treatment?
Stem cell treatment gives hope to those suffering from previously considered incurable diseases.
Several reports demonstrated its potential in boosting the immune system, controlling the growth of the cancer, or even eradicating the tumor in the cancer patients who have undergone this kind of treatment. Quality of life is also positively influenced. Unwanted side effects from conventional treatment (such as chemotherapy) can also be lessened.
When can we expect to see the effects of the treatment?
Patient reactions to the treatment vary: some may benefit from the stem cell after the first two treatments (2nd week), while others may experience improvement a month after complete treatment.
What are the chances that I will be cured?
There is no guarantee for this treatment, but several reports indicate that early intervention can provide the best treatment outcome.
Can I opt for stem cell treatment outright or would my attending physician’s recommendation be needed?
Your doctor can describe your treatment options and the expected results. Discussion with him or her will help you weigh the risks and the benefits of stem cell treatment, and guide you in making an informed decision. Work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that meets your needs.
In the interest of providing best patient care, it is suggested that the patient will remain with their primary attending physician. Patient’s history and current condition will be evaluated, and several tests will be required before the stem cell treatment can be carried out.
Steps in Stem Cell Treatment
a. Apheresis, also known as leukapheresis – It is a process wherein dendritic cells (which originate from the stem cells in the bone marrow) are separated from the patient’s blood.
b. Maturation – Dendritic cell maturation involves a cell culture technique whereby the cells are placed in an optimal environment to make them “competent” in carrying out their functions.
c. Priming or “Education” of the Dendritic Cell – The cells are cultured with the known “signature” (tumor antigen) present in the cancer cells of the patient. This “teaches” the dendritic cells to identify the enemy cancer cells.
d. Transplantation – At this point, the “educated” dendritic cells are injected back to the patient. These “intelligent” dendritic cells will “teach” other immune cells in order to strengthen their fight against the cancer cells.
e. Monitoring – Patients will undergo CT-scan or MRI imaging procedures to evaluate the benefit of the stem cell. A surrogate marker, eg., interferon gamma, will be used to monitor if his or her immune system has improved after transplantation.
Top 5 Reasons Makati Medical Center’s Cellular Therapeutics Laboratory is the best in the Philippines
1. Probably exceeds US-FDA sterility standards – Biosafety level 5 is at least one notch or two notches higher than what is recommended by the US-FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration). As part of the routine procedure, the facility is continuously monitored for its sterility.
In comparison with other laboratories, the lab is at least three notches better in providing a sterile environment. Most cancer patients have weakened immune systems, hence, we put premium importance in the quality/sterility of the product.
Compared to other facilities in the Philippines, our laboratory is unmatched in terms of providing the best cellular product or quality.
2. Unmatched purity of stem cell product - Separation of the cellular products is carried out within our Biosafety level 5 facility through automated magnetic-based cell separation. Our technology is approved by the US-FDA in clinical trials to perform cell purification without compromising cell physiology. Thus, the laboratory is totally unmatched in terms of the cell purity (at least 90-95%) and cell viability of the product.
10-point DNA matching – In a condition wherein the stem cells will be sourced out from a donor, our laboratory will perform the strictest standards in identifying a possible cross-match for the recipient. We have the technology to push this cellular transplantation process that will significantly minimize complications. Full disclosure of the patient’s cell status, characteristics and quality will be provided.
4. Affordable – Stem cell treatment at Makati Medical Center is more affordable than most local hospitals – some of which charge P3M to P4M per cellular therapy package – and cheaper than the treatment provided in neighboring countries like China and Singapore.
5. Managed by experienced scientists with extensive training – The laboratory is affiliated with the International Society for Cellular Therapy (ISCT). ISCT is a non-profit organization composed of leading cell therapy experts from 40 countries. Based in Washington D.C., it actively provides scientific, educational, and technical support for laboratories engaged in cellular therapy across the continents.
At the Makati Medical Center, we just don’t do personalized medicine, we perform precise medicine.