Science can make our lives easier, it can even save our lives but it can also make us look better. Yes, there are years and years of serious research even behind cosmetic surgery and new methods are emerging by the day. Do you want to get rid of wrinkles? Forget about silicon and collagen, scientists say now. Your own cells can do the trick! In today's Czech Science we get a glimpse of a fascinating field called cell therapy and tissue engineering that has many applications and a great potential in all areas of medicine.
At one of Prague's cosmetic surgery clinics, Dr Peter Hajduk is showing me the classic "before" and "after" photos of a middle-aged woman. In the second photo, the laugh lines between the sides her nose and the corners of her lips - the nasolabial folds, as they are called - are significantly diminished. If you guessed a facelift or injectable fillers, you are wrong.
"We are using the patient's, or client's, own material - not any artificial fillers that the other methods are using. It's very simple. We take a sample of the skin and sub-skin tissue from the patients, usually from the region behind the ear, because there the skin is no so damaged by sun and chemicals. Then we close this little wound with maybe some glue or with one stitch and we send the sample of this tissue to a special tissue bank where it is multiplied and clarified. Then we again inject these purified cells, called fibroblasts, into the areas which have to be treated."
This skin rejuvenation method was originally devised in the United States and is used in some other countries, too. The difference is that Dr Hajduk's centre decided to grow the new cells not on artificial soil but in the client's own blood serum.
"We decided that the whole procedure should be as natural as possible and that's why we do this whole procedure on the client's own material. Both the donor cells and the soil come from the patient. It means that we take maybe 3 to 5 cubic centimetres of the client's blood and the cells are then multiplied on the part of the blood. As far as I know, so far we are the only place in Central Europe that performs this procedure."
This method of skin renewal is used to treat all kinds of facial and neck wrinkles. Outside cosmetic medicine, similar methods can help treat burns or scars and even cure joints. As Dr Peter Hajduk says, cell therapy has some great advantages over other types of treatment.
"The first and the biggest advantage is that the whole process is done on the natural material from the client, so there is zero possibility of an adverse or allergy reaction. Of course, in medicine you can almost never say zero, but in the case of this method we can almost certainly say it is zero. Even the soil is very important. Of course, we can use some artificial soil and the cells will grow but there is some very, very small chance that there could be some kind of damage to the cells or their genetics can be changed, but by using the patient's natural material for the growing we can avoid this problem."
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