What is the evidence that stem cell treatment is safe?

There is good evidence from many large scientific studies that stem cells treatments are safe. Emerging research says stem cells are also effective in appropriately selected patients, particularly those with degenerative joint osteoarthritis. Administration via joint injection under ultra sound guidance (which is how Melbourne Stem Cell Centre administers stem cell therapy)  is also a safe procedure



What is the evidence that Stem Cells work?

Many laboratory based trials have shown effective reduction of pain and improvement in activity with stem cell therapy, particularly with knee, hip and other joint osteoarthritis.

Trails have confirmed the ability of adipose-derived stem cells to differentiate into cartilage (Diekman, et al. 2010).
Adipose-derived stem cells have shown cartilage regrowth and functional improvement in animal studies (Dragoo, et al. 2007).

Bone marrow derived stem cell trials have shown pain and function improvement with follow-up imaging indicating improvement in cartilage volume (Wakitani, et al. 2007). Blood-derived stem-cell therapy when combined with orthopaedic arthroscopy has shown biopsy confirmed regeneration of cartilage-like tissue (Saw, et al. 2011). Adipose-derived stem cells have been shown to enhance the primary repair of ruptured tendons (Uysal, et al. 2012). Intra-articular (within the joint) injections of pure adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells has resulted in regeneration of cartilage with resultant increase in overall cartilage volume and reduction in the size or cartilage lesions (Jo, et al. 2014).



Is it ethical to use stem cells?

All treatments at Melbourne Stem Cell Centre are conducted under human research ethics committee approvals. This ensures that all treatments MSCC performs for joint osteoarthritis have been assessed by a university-based ethics committee which ensures MSCC’s research and treatments are ethical.


Will you be treating other conditions that are not joint disorders?

Current projects only involve treatment for Osteoarthritis.

What does the treatment involve?

  • An inital consultation with one of our sports medicine doctors to assess your suitability for stem cell treatment.

  • An X-ray and MRI scan. If you have had scans within the last 6 months these may be able to be used.

  • If suitable for stem-cell treatment, formal written information will be provided and consent forms will be filled in. Those who choose to proceed are enrolled in Melbourne Stem Cell Centre’s ethics-approved research case series.

  • A liposuction procedure to harvest cells. This procedure is performed in theatre as a day procedure under local anesthetic.

  • It takes a minimum of 8 weeks to prepare the later the first injection, with a second injection six-months after.



Do all patients have to be in the research project?

All patients’ data is included in our research project. The medical data gathered from trial patients and other MSCC patients may be used to assess the efficacy of stem cells and the results may be published in scientific or medical journals. No patients would be identified in any published materials. 



Can I claim on Medicare or health insurance?

Your inital consultation can be claimed through medicare. Stem cell treatment is not claimable through medicare or private health insurance. 



Who performs the treatment?

Suitably and properly qualified musculoskeletal doctors. Every patient will be treated under the auspices of an ethically approved research project



Can I drive after treatment?

No, you will need someone to take you home after your treatment.



Is there parking?

There is paid parking on site. The cost is about $18 per day. Two-hour metre parking is available in the street.



What do I wear and will my belongings be safe?

Wear loose fitting comfortable clothes. Your belongings will be placed in a secure locker in the change area. Do not bring many possessions with you.



How long will my visit take?

The liposuction procedure will be performed in the Day Procedure Unit on site at MSCC.   The procedure will take approximately 1 hour but due to admission and post operative assessment requirements you will be at the clinic for up to 3 hours. The initial consult with your Doctor may take up to an hour. Subsequent visits for injections will take around 45 minutes.



Who is suitable for stem cell therapy?

Before stem-cell therapy can be administered, patients must be formally assessed by one of the clinics’ doctors.
This will include an X-ray and MRI scan.  Conservative management of the patient’s condition will be maximised and only if the patient continues to have symptoms,  their condition is suitable and fits within the accepted ethical guidelines for stem-cell therapy will stem-cell therapy be offered.



What is Involved ?

  1. Adipose-derived stem-cell therapy involves a harvest procedure performed under local anaesthetic and light sedation if required.

  2. Adipose tissue is taken from the body (usually the abdomen) using a procedure similar to liposuction.

  3. Harvested adipose tissue undergoes further processing to extract the adipose-derived stem cell component.

  4. Stem cells undergo expansion to produce increased cell numbers and improve efficacy.

  5. Patients will receive two injections of adipose-derived stem cells into their arthritic joint or tendon

  6. Conditions may require orthopaedic intervention prior to stem cell therapy.

  7. All patients who undergo adipose-derived stem cell therapy will have formal follow-up with their treating physician.




How is Melbourne Stem Cell Centre different ?

Melbourne Stem Cell Centre (MSCC) is a research driven organisation with a clear focus on using evidence-based techniques in stem-cell therapies. MSCC stem cell therapies use ‘pure’ high dose mesenchymal stem cell preparations that have been shown to improve pain and function and to stimulate tissue regeneration. 



What are the risks?

There are risks associated with all medical procedures. The risks for stem-cell therapies undertaken at MSCC are:

Harvest Procedure

  • Infection: Risk is minimised through use of a sterile harvesting technique and also prophylactic antibiotics.

  • Pain/Bruising at the site of harvest.

  • Abdominal asymmetry: the risk of asymmetry post liposuction is limited due to the small volume (100-200mls) of adipose tissue required.

Stem cell injections

  • Infection: To reduce chance of infection, all injections are done under sterile conditions using ultrasound guidance for accuracy.

  • Pain/Discomfort: It is not uncommon for people to experience pain after the injection of stem cells. You will be supplied with a script for appropriate analgesia/pain relief. Some people may need crutches in the initial period due to discomfort.

  • Swelling: It is expected that your joint will swell after the injection of stem cells. Swelling can be controlled using ice and a compression bandage. It will improve usually within days.