The South African Stem Cell Institute works in close association with US Stem Cell inc. (previously known as Bio Heart inc.)
  • What?

What are Stem Cells?

Stem cells

Regenerative medicine is aimed at replacing damaged or diseased cells in hopes of restoring or improving their normal physiological function.  Nowadays the term “Regenerative Medicine” is often used to describe medical treatments and research that utilize stem cells to restore these functions.  This can be achieved through either the administration of stem cells or administering more specific cells derived from stem cells.  Another approach to regerative medicine involves the administration of compounds that stimulate stem cells that are already present in tissues to more effectively repair the affected structures.

Stem cells are the precursor cells found throughout our bodies from which mature or differentiated cells are derived.  They are characterized by the abilty to renew themselves or develop into more specialized cells and therefore have the potential to replace cells or tissues that are damaged or destroyed due to disease processes/injuries.

Stem cell therapy therefore leads to tissue regeneration much like an organ transplant but is much less invasive and only cells are used as therapy.  By applying these regenerative stem cell properties clinically we can treat various diseases or conditions by harnessing the body’s natural healing abilities.


What type of stem cells does the South African Stem Cell Institute specialize in?


As stem cells occur througout our bodies during all stages of life they can easily be harvested from adult tissue.

The South African Stem Cell Institute use Adult Stem Cells that are predominantly isolated from adipose tissue or ‘fat’ and bone marrow aspirations.  These tissues contain a small subset of adult stem cells known as mesenchymal stem cells, or more correctly, stromal cells (MSCs).



What are the applications of Stem Cell therapy?

Various conditions have been treated with Stem Cell therapy and current research shows promising future applications.  Adult adipose tissue contain mesenchymal stem cells that are being employed in both research and clinical environments for a variety of aesthetic and medical conditions.  Examples of injuries or diseases treated with stem cell regenerative therapy, include:

  • Various conditions have been treated with Stem Cell therapy and current research shows promising future applications.  Stromal cells that are greatly employed in both research and clinical environments for a variety of aesthetic and medical conditions.  Examples of injuries or diseases treated with stem cell regenerative therapy, include:
    • Skin regeneration
    • Neurological diseases (Motor Neuron Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Spinal Cord Injuries)
    • Orthopedic diseases (Osteo-arthritis, cartilage & bone repair)
    • Sports injuries (cartilage & ligament repair)
    • Diseases of the Respiratory system (COPD’s such as emphysema)
    • Cardiovascular diseases (heart muscle regeneration)
    • Circulatory diseases (Critical Limb Ischemia)
    • Erectile dysfunction
    • Macular degeneration
    • Hair loss
    • & many other areas



What are the advantages of adult Stem Cells?


The following advantages are associated with the use of adult stem cells in Regenerative Medicine:

  • Cells are derived entirely from mature tissues and therefore there are few to no ethical issues involved, as there are many different sources from which these cells can be obtained
  • Even though adult Mesenchymal Stem Cells are somewhat differentiated, they are still multipotent and can form a number of new tissues
  • Adult Mesenchymal Stem Cells are less teratogenic (less prone to tumor formation) than embryonic stem cells
  • These cells are immunoregulatory in nature meaning that they do not elicit a significant immune reaction after treatment and therefore rejection-related adverse events are unlikely
What additional treatments can be coupled to Stem Cell therapy for even more success?


Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatment coupled with a point-of-care MSC treatment are recommended for best results. PRP contain many growth factors and regenerative molecules that contribute to- and mediate normal tissue regeneration.

The beneficial effects of a PRP-coupled approach is depicted in the study on wound healing below, where the control group (vehicle) demonstrates general healing time compared to PRP alone and finally to a PRP-Stem Cell coupled treatment:






  • Who?

Who can make use of Stem Cell based therapies?


Anyone can inquire about our treatments although each case is subjected to strenuous review by our medical doctors. Based on this  review the doctors will decide whether stem cell therapy is a viable option and provide their recommendations.

  • Why?

Why are Stem Cells controversial?


Even though Embryonic Stem Cells are totipotent meaning that they can differentiate into any cell type as opposed to the more limited potential of Adult Stem Cells, they are obtained from embryos resulting in the destruction of the embryo and loss of potential life.  It is important to note that not all stem cells are derived from embryonic tissue.  The South African Stem Cell Institute is not involved in any form of embryonic stem cell science and does not make use of embryonic stem cells. It should also be noted that embryonic stem cells are obtained from fertilized eggs from in vitro facilities as opposed to being discarded, for which consent is obtained from the donors for use in research purposes.



  • How?

How are the stem cells obtained?


At our facility adult stem cells are obtained either from fat tissue or bone marrow. Fat is collected through a process known as lipo-aspiration using a local (tumescent) anesthetic, so the patient is conscious throughout this procedure. A small volume of fat is collected from which the cells are then isolated. Alternatively a bone marrow aspiration will be performed where bone marrow will be collected from the iliac (hip) bone close to the dimples at the bottom of the spine. The tissue collection procedures as well as the process of isolating the stem cells from the tissues take about 45 – 60 minutes each.


How does a Stem Cell transplant work?


The method of administration/reintroduction of the Stem Cells will be determined by your medical professional depending on your specific condition.  Stem Cells can be given intravenously (IV), injected into the body part/joint of interest (intra-articular), injected around the spine (intrathecal) or coupled with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP).