Stem Cell Therapy in India

Last Modified: December 27, 2019  |   Created on: November 25, 2019
Cell Therapy

At a Glance

  • Stem cell therapy is a type of cellular therapy which involves the use of regenerative, reparative, protective or immunoregulatory properties of stem cells to treat a variety of conditions.
  • The cost of stem cell therapy in India ranges from USD 7500 – USD 12000, depending on multiple factors.
  • Autologous stem cell therapy is a 100% safe form of treatment and has shown excellent clinical results and a high success rate in patients.
  • Stem cell therapy has shown effective results in improvement of certain developmental and neurological disorders, including autism, cerebral palsy, Intellectual disorder, muscular dystrophy, spinal injury, brain damage/head injury, stroke, motor-neural disorder and many others.
Stem Cell

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are the distinctive cells that are considered to be the building blocks of our body.

These are the cells from which all other cell types develop or “stem” from. They can be defined as unspecialized and undifferentiated premature cells that produce other different types of cells in the body.

The two characteristics and unique properties of stem cells are self-renewal and ability to differentiate into various types of cells with specialized function.

Under the right conditions, stem cells divide and form more cells, called daughter cells.

These daughter cells can then either develop into new stem cells again (known as self-renewal) or form specialized cells (known as differentiation), such as blood cells, brain cells, heart muscle cells or bone cells.

They also have the remarkable ability to serve as a kind of internal repair system, dividing perpetually without limitations to replenish other cells. Therefore, stem cells can be used to regenerate & repair the damaged tissues of the body. For instance, stem cells have the ability to form healthy neural cells in patients with brain damage, heart cells in cardiac patients, corneal cells in patients with blindness and many others.

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How does stem cell treatment work?

Stem cell therapy is a form of cellular therapy in which either stem cells (from bone marrow) or derivatives of stem cells cells derived from stem cells are used for therapeutic purposes. (ref: Nature)

It is a part of Regenerative Medicine, the rapidly developing field of science which involves replacing or regenerating cells, tissues or organs of the human body that have lost their function due to a disease, organ/tissue damage, or congenital defects. Stem cell treatment is currently being used to generate new healthy cells to replace and repair diseased or damaged cells in patients. Stem cells may achieve this ability to repair by the following mechanism:

  • By releasing certain growth factors that have some healing and regenerative effect on the diseased or damaged tissue.
  • By causing angiogenesis – i.e. increase in the blood supply to damaged tissue. This helps in the repair process.
  • By developing into the specialized cells of the tissue type into which they are implanted. This helps by replacing the non-functioning tissue and restoring normal function of healthy cells of that tissue.

What are the types of stem cells used?

Stem cells can be classified on the basis of their origin and developmental stage. There are three categories:

Embryonic Stem Cells
These cells are found in embryos that are 5 to 7 days old (blastocyst). All the tissues and organs of the fetus develop from these cells. Usually, they are taken from IVF clinics. Embryonic stem cells are the most potent cell type as they can differentiate and convert into any type of cells. Retrieval of embryonic cells raises some important ethical as well as legal issues so are prohibited in many countries.

Umbilical Cord (Perinatal) Stem Cells
These stem cells are obtained from the umbilical cord (or other discarded parts such as placenta and amniotic fluid) immediately after the birth of a baby. Cord blood is rich in stem cells that can give rise to blood cells and umbilical cord tissue have cells called Wharton’s gelatin cells. These cells differ in functions and therefore, possible utility. Other cellular components such as immune cells are also present in umbilical cord that have significant benefits. Mothers may donate the umbilical cord after the baby’s birth which are then stored and preserved in Cord Blood Banks for use in the future, as required.

Adult Stem Cells
These types of cells can be located in many organs of the human body such as bone marrow, brain, peripheral blood, skeletal muscle, testes and many others. These cells can be obtained from any person, regardless of the age. They are found in specific areas called a “stem cell niche” of all tissues of the body. These cells normally stay dormant for long periods and are activated to repair the damaged tissue when there is an organ damage due to injury or disease. There are minimum ethical issues associated with these cell types and they are currently being used in cell based therapies for treatment of a number of disorders.

According to their potency, stem cells can be categorized as:

Pluripotent Stem Cells
These types of cells have the potential to develop into nearly all types of cells. They are derived from blastocyst (embryonic stage) and any of the three germ layers (ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm). Embryonic stem cells are categorized as pluripotent. Their use is limited due to ethical conflicts and genetic instability associated with these cells.

Multipotent Stem Cells
These are organ-specific cells that differentiate into a limited number of cell types with specialized functions. Adult stem cells fall into this category and are commonly used in cell therapies. Multipotent stem cells can be obtained from a wide range of sources, including 8-day old embryos to adult bone marrow.

Totipotent Stem Cells
These cells are also called omnipotent stem cells. They have the capacity to form a whole organism. These stem cells are formed from the fusion of an egg with a sperm cell. They can differentiate into embryonic as well as extraembryonic cell types.

What are the sources of stem cells?

a) Autologous stem cells: Stem cells that are derived from the patient’s own body, such as from the bone marrow are known as autologous stem cells. As the cells are taken from the patients themselves there will be no compatibility issue and it is absolutely safe to use them. The chance of rejection is also eliminated. They can be easily isolated from the areas rich in stem cells, such as bone marrow in hip bone, peripheral blood and others.

b) Allogenic Stem cells: These stem cells are obtained from another person (donor). Because the cells are from another person, there can be compatibility issues so proper matching tests need to be done prior to cell therapy. Cells can also be sourced from the embryo (embryonic stem cells), usually from IVF clinics. The other good source of Allogenic stem cells is the umbilical cord obtained after the birth of a baby.

How can Lyfboat assist you in getting Stem Cell Therapy in India?

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Lyfboat is a free advisory platform; we do not charge any fees from patients. In fact, we negotiate the price that Indian hospitals offer. In some cases we are able to reduce the cost by negotiating upto 20% of what Hospitals generally offer. We advise the best treatment from the top hospital/surgeon at best price.

Which medical conditions can be treated with stem cell therapy?

In children

  • Autism

    Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder marked by impairment of social interaction along with verbal and non-verbal communication. The patient displays restricted and repetitive behavior. Read more about the causes, diagnosis, available treatment and use of stem cell therapy for autism in India.

    After stem cell therapy

    • Stem cell therapy for autism has shown significant improvement in overall behavior and symptoms such as reduction in the child’s hyperactivity, improvement in eye contact, attention span and social awareness.
    • Also, after the cell therapy, children have shown improvement in interactions with peers, response to commands and a decrease in irrelevant speech.
    • Children who had a limited vocabulary or no speech at all, are able to develop speech.
    • The fine motor activity improves and self-stimulatory behaviour reduces. These improvements have been observed for about 91% of the children who underwent the stem cell therapy for autism.
  • Cerebral Palsy

    Cerebral palsy is a neuro-developmental condition, which develops due to damage to the brain around pregnancy or at the time of birth. The symptoms of the condition ranges from mild to very severe physical disability along with epilepsy and comorbid mental retardation. The causes of cerebral palsy may include nutritional factors, physical trauma, lack of oxygen flow resulting from factors such as cord around the neck, birth asphyxia, and others.

    After stem cell therapy

    • The aim of this treatment is to improve the milestone development in children with cerebral palsy and help them lead an independent life.
    • Stem cell therapy for cerebral palsy has shown improvements in speech and physical abilities such as balance, trunk activity, upper limb and lower limb activity, muscle tone and ambulation.
    • Around 92.6% of children have been reported to show symptomatic improvement after stem cell therapy.
    • The functional changes observed in patients can be matched with the improvements in the brain metabolism, seen in brain imaging scans such as PET-CT (Positron emission tomography- computerized tomography) scans.
  • Intellectual Disability

    Intellectual disability (ID) or Mental retardation is a generalized developmental disorder. It is characterized by impairment of intellectual skills and adaptive functioning. People with intellectual disability, experience difficulties in communication, taking care of themselves, social skills, self-direction, managing safety, performing in academics, and work.

    After stem cell therapy

    • Stem cell therapy in patients with intellectual disability has shown improvements in the area of cognitive skills, communication, social interaction, school performance and other symptoms.
    • The improved mental development leads to improvement in IQ levels.
    • The person starts to behave according to their age.
    • This may ultimately help the family by relieving them of the pressure of taking constant care.
  • Muscular Dystrophy

    This is a genetic disorder in which the muscles gradually weaken and eventually stop working. It develops due to the incorrect or loss of genetic information in a person which does not allow the body to correctly form the proteins required for building and maintaining healthy muscles. With time, MD patients lose the ability to walk, sit upright, breathe normally, and move their limbs. It is a progressively deteriorating disorder and the problem continues to worsen over time. Sometimes, it may even lead to death as early as 20 years of age.
    After stem cell therapy

    • The cell therapy aims to stop the disease progression and prevent worsening of the condition.
    • Without any treatment, a patient who is able to walk, may lose ambulation and become completely dependent on another person for his daily activities.
    • Stem cell therapy for Muscular Dystrophy in around 86% of the patients has shown overall improvement in clinical symptoms, such as balance, upper limb strength, lower limb strength and posture, and pause in the increasing muscle weakness.
    • With comprehensive physiotherapy programs after stem cell therapy, children who have earlier stopped walking, were able to move with gaiters.

In adults

  • Spinal Cord Injury

    Spinal cord injury may happen due to a trauma such as a road traffic accident, falling from a height or due to non-traumatic medical conditions such as spinal tumor or infection in the spinal cord. The complications may vary depending on the extent of the injury. It may lead to paralysis below the neck in a cervical cord injury (quadriplegia) or below chest or waist region in a thoracic/dorsal cord injury (paraplegia), accompanied by a loss of bladder and bowel incontinence.

    After stem cell therapy
    Stem cell therapy for the treatment of spinal cord injury show improvement in sitting and standing balance, walking with support, sensation, bladder control and sexual performance. The range of improvements may vary for people, but are observed in over 90% of the patients.

  • Brain Stroke

    Brain Stroke, also known as cerebrovascular accident, is caused by a sudden halt in the blood supply to the brain which results in damage to the brain tissue due to lack of oxygen and nutrients. It is one of the leading causes of disability and the most devastating condition of brain. Stroke can cause permanent damage to the brain functions resulting in inability to move, problems with vision and speech, changes in sensations and cognitive impairments. Brain stroke can be Ischemic or Hemorrhagic.

    After stem cell therapy

    • Patients have been found to show reduced spasticity or tightness on the paralysed side after undergoing a stem cell therapy for stroke treatment. Other improvements include:
    • Enables the person to control movement at their own will. Following cell therapy, a patient who was unable to move a hand can now easily move his/her hand and use it for normal activities, including eating, wearing clothes, holding a cane for walking and others.
    • Reduced tightness in the legs is also observed, which makes walking easier.
    • Patients with cognitive problems or memory issues, become more alert and speech also becomes clearer.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury/Head Injury

    A brain injury or damage caused due to a trauma can lead to a range of problems including physical disability, amnesia, loss of cognitive function as well as understanding. It usually results in permanent disability and makes the person completely dependent on a caretaker for all the regular activities.

    After stem cell therapy
    Stem cell therapy for head injury has been found to help in improving the understanding and cognitive skills. This cannot be achieved with conventional rehabilitation. There is an overall improvement in balance, coordination, speech and communication.

  • Motor Neuron-Disease/Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

    This is a neurological condition in which motor neurons are selectively affected. Motor neurons are control functions of voluntary muscles including speaking, walking, swallowing, as well as general movement of the limbs. It is neurodegenerative in nature, and progressively increases disability and eventually leads to death.

    After stem cell therapy

    • The chance of survival in patients treated with autologous stem cell transplantation is found to be better than those who didn’t undergo cell therapy.
    • Symptomatic improvements include reduced choking, saliva drooling as well as improvement in swallowing, neck control, limb function and ambulation.
    • Patients are also found to have increased respiratory capacity and improved fine motor skills.
  • Cerebral Ataxia

    Cerebellar Ataxia is an in-coordination related syndrome that is caused by lesions in the cerebellum. The condition is categorized into a group of hereditary and non-hereditary disorders. Cerebellar Ataxia is characterized by abnormal gait/ posture, balance problems, incoordination and involuntary movements, poor nuero-motor skills, cognition problem and other problems. It is a progressively deteriorating condition.

    After stem cell therapy

    • Following stem cell therapy, patients have shown improvement in various neurological functions.
    • The therapy works by increasing angiogenesis and helping with neovascularization by forming signaling molecules.
    • It is a safe and effective method as a complementary treatment which slows down or halts the progression of the disease and prevent worsening of symptoms.
    • Symptomatic improvements include better speech, sitting and standing balance, improved walking and cerebellar signs.

What does Stem Cell Therapy involve?

Stem cell therapy is a minimally invasive and effective procedure that does not require any major surgery or incision. It is known to be completely safe in case of autologous adult stem cell transplant as it uses the patient’s own stem cells. The treatment is accompanied by an intensive regime of neurorehabilitation, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, special education, psychology, and many more. These programs and therapies are administered by experienced professionals from respective fields. The procedure is carried in the following three steps:

  1. Bone Marrow Aspiration:
    Bone marrow is the soft sponge-­like inner material found in certain bones. It is a rich source of adult stem cells and the formation of different blood cell types takes place within the bone marrow. The hip bone is considered to be the easiest source of bone marrow derived stem cell collection. The extraction process is usually carried out under local anaesthesia. But in the case of children or adults who cannot tolerate the procedure, the doctor may use sedatives or general anaesthesia. The stem cells are extracted with the help of a bone marrow aspiration needle which is inserted into the hip bone. It usually takes only 15 to 30 minutes. Depending on the weight of the patient, almost 80 ml to 120 ml of bone marrow is aspirated.
  2. Separation of Stem Cells:
    The bone marrow aspirate is then taken for processing at a stem cell laboratory. These are high-tech labs with equipment like density gradient centrifuge. This equipment separates the stem cells from the aspirate based on differences in density between the different types of cells in the aspirate and the reagent used for separation (density gradient medium). This takes 3-5 hours and can be performed on the same day as bone marrow aspiration. The method separates the Bone Marrow Mononuclear Cells (BM MNCs) as a “buffy coat”. It is a heterogeneous mixture of cells including hematopoietic (lymphocytes, monocytes, stem cells and progenitor cells) and non-hematopoietic cells (mesenchymal stromal cells, endothelial progenitor cells – EPCs, and others).
  3. Stem Cell Injection:
    After the bone marrow cells are separated, the patient is transferred to the operation theatre. The stem cells are administered intrathecally, which means injecting the cells directly into the fluid around the brain and spine. This is done using either an epidural needle or a spinal needle. Before injecting, the cells are first diluted in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). In certain cases, such as for Muscular Dystrophy, stem cells are injected into the muscles using a very thin needle, after diluting in the CSF.

The benefit of injecting the stem cells intrathecally:
The neurological conditions affect the patient’s brain and nerves, which are linked to the spine. Injecting cells through the spinal fluid is the most direct way of making sure that the cells reach the nervous system safely. Injecting the cells through the vein, i.e. intravenously, in case of neurological conditions will be less effective as stem cells would basically be travelling through the body to reach desired area and the number of cells that will reach the brain may get affected. Another problem is the blood-brain barrier which may prevent the cells from reaching the brain in desired quantities.

Why is autologous stem cell treatment considered to be a better alternative?

Autologous Stem cells means “self cells” that are extracted from the patient’s own body. The major advantages of using these cells over umbilical cord cells are:

  • The risk of rejection is eliminated as the cells used in the procedure comes from the patient’s own body.
  • Stem cells can be given as one injection directly. The cells are collected on the same day as they are injected, there is no need for culturing these cells and injecting small doses of these cells.
  • As the patient’s own cells are used, it significantly reduces the risk of side-effects or complications.
  • Unlike in the case of umbilical cord cells, where they are stored in a cryogenic fluid, adult autologous stem cells from bone marrow are not stored in any chemical or processed through any other chemical. The cryogenic fluid can affect the cell membrane, leading to changes in the quality of cells and also make them unusable for injecting intrathecally.

Safety of the method
Adult autologous bone marrow cell therapy is a completely safe treatment method. There is extensive research on this that is available on various publications internationally and nationally. No cases of serious adverse complications or neurological effects have been reported with the use of this cell therapy. There are a few reversible symptomatic effects that are related to procedure may occur occasionally. It is important to keep in mind that these are completely treatable and cause no long-term effects.

Stem Cell Therapy in India

There has been a rapid uprise in the field of regenerative medicine and stem cell treatment in India. The availability of advanced techniques and thorough research has put India in the forefront of cell therapy treatment worldwide. Indian hospitals offer stem cell therapy for a variety of medical conditions with an excellent success rate. These hospitals have accreditations from multiple organizations of international and national level. They provide a comprehensive range of rehabilitation facilities to provide an all-round care to the patient.

Stem cell treatment and the post-treatment rehabilitative programs are designed and tailored suiting to the particular needs of the individual case.

The stem cell treatment doctors in India are highly trained and experienced specialists with expert knowledge of all the latest advancements in the area. The doctors assess each candidate meticulously with a number of tests to assess their condition and determine the course of procedure.

One of the major reasons that make stem cell therapy in India a preferred choice for many is the economic health packages. The cost of stem cell therapy treatment in India is remarkably lower than the cost offered by the best facilities in the world, but with equally good clinical outcome.

For accurate quotes, send your reports or enquire to care@lyfboat.com and we will get you in touch with best stem cell hospital in India.

Frequently asked Questions (FAQs)

Will the treatment be painful?
The procedure is done under a local anesthesia and a mild sedative. The patient will not experience any significant pain or discomfort during the therapy.

What medical tests and examinations are conducted before the procedure?
Basic routine tests to assess the overall health and fitness are done before the therapy. Certain specific imaging scans and other tests particular to the condition or disorder.

When will I start to have the benefits from the therapy?
It depends on the individual case and many factors such as the condition treated, the extent of damage and others. Usually, most of the improvements can be observed in around 3-6 months after the treatment. Some patients show immediate improvements in symptoms, even before the discharge, while in others there are slow progressive improvements continue for months or years.

Vanshika Rawat

Written By Vanshika Rawat

Vanshika Rawat is an experienced content developer. She is very knowledgeable in the field of science and healthcare and has worked under brilliant scientists during her higher education. Vanshika obtained her degrees in Masters in Science and Bachelors in Science (Microbiology with Hons.) from renowned institutions - Panjab University and University of Delhi.

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