Dr Džihan Abazović, emergency and regenerative medicine specialist
What are stem cells?
These stem cells can potentially become any other cell or tissue. They are phylogenetically the youngest and all other cells and tissues are generated from them. Beside that, they can convey specific signals to damaged or sick tissue for its recovery. If tissue is very damaged so it is removed urgently to be replaced with other healthy tissue to grow there, so all together could lead to restitution of the organ or tissue.
How are stem cells collected and stored?
There are several types of stem cells – embrionic, fetal and adult stem cells. Fetal and embrionic are the ones that are taken and stored during child birth. They are mostly stored in foreign banks with perspective to use them once they are needed. Advantage of these cells that they still do not have immunologic capabilities, so they can be used not only for the donor but also for the family members, and even for someone else that is not family member. On the other hand, their only defect is that in the region currently there are no GMP standards which would enable application of such therapy.
Adult stem cells today are used more and more and for all diseases that do not require use of stem cells. That means that if you had some kind of trauma, your stem cells are healthy and we could immediately take them and apply them on damaged place; that practice is being performed in Serbia almost daily and is very successful.
What diseases and conditions can be treated with stem cells?
There are a wide range of diseases that are treatable with stem cells. Today stem cells are mostly applied for an orthopedic injuries. I am very proud on our team that is European leader in the field of stem cell for orthopedics-regeneration of cartilage in the first place. We have set up standards and procedures that are used by other European institutions. Also, since recently we have started application of stem cells with children who have cerebral palsy as well as autism. With certain percent we do lesions of spinal cord, which is very delicate process. Currently, it is in the last phase study that involves diabetes mellitus I type. We use very often stem cells in reproductive health, in patients that from some reason have ovaries that do not stimulate enough hormones. In perspective we plan that with team of neurologist to use this method in treatment of multiple sclerosis.