By using stem cells, 13 patients with gangrening limbs were protected from amputation and it was the first time in the history of medicine of Lithuania. This result was reached after the scientists and doctors of our country performed experimental research together and succeeded in treating 87 per cent patients having suffered from critical limb ischaemia with the help of stem cell therapy.
Fifteen 35-77-year-old patients participated in the research which results have been published in the international scientific magazine journal “Journal of Translational Medicine” recently. They all heard the diagnosis of critical limb ischaemia that is mostly caused by peripheral artery disease because of atherosclerosis. This disease narrows vessels and peripheral arteries, it is more and more difficult for blood to flow and limbs do not get enough oxygen and start gangrening eventually.
“The results of stem cell therapy are excellent. It helped to avoid limb amputation to 13 from 15 patients. The youngest patient, who participated in the research, was able to walk 200 meters on the own feet without pain after half a year of treatment with stem cells and later – half a kilometre. The wounds of almost all other patients also healed up and the amputation was unnecessary”, – speaks the vascular surgeon Mindaugas Paškevičius, who participated in the experimental research, about the benefit of this therapy.
According to the doctor, all these cases were very severe and impossible to operate; the medicaments did not help, either. The amputation of gangrening limbs was planned for all the patients, who participated in the research, so the doctors and the scientists proposed them to try an alternative treatment method – stem cell therapy.
“Because of disordered blood circulation, these people suffered from pains and it was difficult for them to walk. Moreover, as the diseases progresses, there are mostly non-healing wounds that cause additional discomfort. There is a danger of infections and the amputation of the limb becomes unavoidable in the end“, – states the doctor.
The treatment with stem cell therapy was performed in a few stages. First, the fat tissue was collected from the patients by means of liposuction (fat suction). The specialists of the company of biotechnologies “Froceth”, JSC established by Lithuanian scientists prepared an individual stem cell preparation for each patient in their laboratory and divided it into doses with about 50 million cells in one. They were injected into the most problematic places of the patient’s body.
About 3-6 weeks later, the injected stem cells started forming a new vascular network in the places damaged by the disease. The pain suffered by the patients decreased, their blood circulation became better and the wounds started shrinking.
“Stem cells are precursors of all other cells; they can proliferate and renew or even become cells of other types under certain conditions. Their effect is absolutely different than that of medicaments. They are a natural constructive material of the organism and is used for the treatment of various diseases, opposed to the application of synthetic products, helps to avoid any reactions of rejection. As stem cells have a regenerative effect, they help to form a collateral vascular network in the case of critical limb ischaemia“, – says the head of the research laboratory at “Froceth”, JSC Dr. Adas Darinskas.
During the experimental research, stem cells were injected to the patients periodically for half a year. After completing this treatment course, the patients will have to take blood-liquefying medicaments all life. However, according to Dr. A. Darinskas, the effectiveness of this therapy is also confirmed by later angiographic analyses. They show the results of stem cell therapy are just better in the course of time.
Stem cells are used in the world for the treatment of Parkinson and cardiovascular diseases, leukaemia, medullar injuries or eye cornea injuries as well as elimination of skin scars and burns. In Lithuania, the stem cell preparation prepared by “Froceth”, JSC is used for the regeneration of the cartilage joint tissue, in vascular surgery and for the restoration of damaged or elasticity-lost skin. The scientists of the company are planning to perform more similar researches together with doctors in the future and expand the possibilities of use of stem cells by applying them for the treatment of other diseases.