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Regenerative medicine reduces adverse effects of Coronavirus –Ikudayisi

A United States Board Certified Internist, David Ikudayisi, is the pioneer Medical Director of Glory Wellness & Regenerative Centre, a multi-specialty healthcare centre in Lagos and Abuja. He talks about the importance and benefits of this new branch of medicine among other issues in this interview with REGINA OTOKPA. Excerpts…

What is regenerative medicine all about?

Regenerative medicine is a branch of medicine that deals with the process of replacing, restoring, regenerating, and rejuvenating human cells, tissues, or organs to restore normal function. It comprises different components including Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy, Adult Stem Cell (ASC) Therapy, Embryonic Stem Cell (ESC) therapy, and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) therapy. It is important to understand that only the first two therapies (PRP & ASC) are currently available in clinical settings today, proven and considered safe for practical use in humans.

Are ailments responding well to Adult Stem Cell Therapy in Nigeria?

Some ailments are really responding well to Adult Stem Cell therapy in Nigeria. Some of such diseases are – Diabetes Mellitus, Chronic Kidney Disease, especially if in early stage, Erectile Dysfunction, Hypertension, Joint Pain, Development Disorder and some Neurological disorders, to mention just a few.

How does this work?

Regenerative medicine takes care of the organ degeneration. It leverages the body’s natural healing mechanisms and attempts to accentuate their effects by increasing their availability to the specific organs needing regeneration. The ability to harness the body’s natural healing mechanisms using Adult Stem Cell Therapy (a subcategory of Regenerative Medicine) while minimizing adverse effects confers on Regenerative Medicine a considerably greater safety profile than conventional medicine.

Do stem cells reverse the ageing process?

The regenerative power of tissues and organs deteriorates as we age. The modern day stem cell hypothesis is that adult stem cells are able to initiate self-renewal and to divide, proliferate and then differentiate in order to rejuvenate damaged tissue. Adult stem cells are important because they help keep human tissues healthy by replacing cells that are old or damaged. What is allowed without the ethical or religious issues is the Adult Stem Cell (ASC) therapy, which uses the stem cells obtained from an individual patient. There is also Umbilical Cord Stem Cell therapy, which is a type of stem cell used in Adult Stem Cell (ASC) therapy. These treatments are being procured already in Nigeria, at least in Glory Wellness & Regenerative Centres in Lagos and Abuja. Patients are now being treated in Nigeria using Adult Stem Cells and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy without having to travel abroad.

What makes regenerative medicine significantly different from conventional medicine?

Conventional medicine uses anything from conservative management, the use of medication, or surgery at the other extreme, to help maintain good health or get us as close to it as possible. Regenerative medicine on the other hand, though not the secret sauce to fix all health problems, is a great tool provided by modern medicine to provide an answer to many health challenges that conventional medicine had deemed unfixable due to their degenerative effects. Where conven-

tional medicine fails, it offers hope and delivers results beyond what conventional medicine can offer in most cases. The benefits are even more noticeable in acute phases of degeneration.

Does this branch of medicine treat only select or all manner of ailments?

The scope of application is broad and multisystem; it can be used for various systems and functions in the body. While the exceptions are diseases of a non-degenerative nature such as genetic or chromosome-related diseases; nonetheless, people with these challenges can see a reduction or improvement in symptoms even though it is not cured. Healthy people use it for anti-aging, to feel stronger and healthier as well as look younger as they age.

Is it an alternative medicine?

Regenerative medicine is not here to replace other branches of medicine. Like other innovations in medicine, it can add value to other forms of medicine. For example, a patient with a displaced fracture needs the intervention of an orthopedic surgeon not regenerative medicine. However, it can be added during or after the orthopedic surgery to accelerate the healing process.

What’s the success story like?

We have seen so many success stories with this branch of medicine. We have treated patients with complex quadriplegia (two years old injury before our involvement due to Partial Transection of Cervical Spinal Cord) and another with over nine years with Cerebral Palsy, both of whom have now gained the ability to move some of their extremities independently. We have also seen patients with uncontrolled diabetes with hypertension, who now have blood pressures and hemoglobin A1c levels within the normal range as a result of these treatments. We have also seen great results in patients treated for female/male sexual dysfunction, pain in their joints, neck, and back, and acute stroke (especially when the acute stroke is treated very early to prevent permanent residual symptoms).

Who else can benefit from this?

All patients with autoimmune disorders can benefit from regenerative medicine. However, they will need continued treatments to maintain the symptoms relief. Autistic patients in Nigeria are also benefiting from it, especially if the cause is autoimmune related (since up to 25 per cent of the autistic spectrum disorder could be caused by autoimmune diseases). Patients with chronic kidney disease in the early stages are not left out, but they will need more than one treatment session. This is just to mention a few medical conditions. One of the many joys we get is talking to people about their ailments and seeing how regenerative medicine can play a role in rejuvenating their health.

How well are Nigerians accepting regenerative medicine?

There is great interest among those needing these therapies. However, the challenge facing regenerative medicine in Nigeria is the lack of awareness of its benefits. One of the tasks confronting us is to spread the word on the availability of these therapies in our country. There is a great enthusiasm on the impressive potential of these therapies world-wide, among the ill needing medical breakthroughs. While it is soon becoming a part of the status quo of modern medicine, the endless potential has continued to encourage even more research to unravel it. This has resulted in more ground-breaking findings on the application of regenerative medicine.

Are there oppositions to it?

As with any new dogma or ideas in medicine, there are pockets of opposition to regenerative medicine. Some of the opposition comes from well-minded medical professionals with traditional academic skepticism or big-pharma fueled adverse policy for economic interests. But the reality is that two decades of research has shown the safety and efficacy of the use of regenerative medicine.

Can it help in stemming the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic?

One of the regenerative medicine protocols was approved for COVID-19 purposes: leveraging its immune modulatory effect to calm the potentially fatal “cytokine storm” of the disease. It also has the benefit of preventing or limiting lung scarring. Another protocol is in the early phase of clinical trials. While we are not a COVID-19 treating centre, it is important to note that regenerative medicine can play a role in the reduction of many of the adverse effects caused by COVID-19.

Being a relatively new branch of medicine in Nigeria, how affordable is it, especially for the low income earners?

It is relatively expensive due to the demand on medical manpower and the present cost of required materials. However, the costs are gradually coming down, which we hope is sustained and accelerated so that more people can benefit. Our goal is to get these treatments to as many people as possible. This involves finding ways to reduce cost without compromising value. Whenever possible, we notify our patients of these price cuts. Furthermore, there are alternative options of treatment with varying costs: this makes these treatments ultimately accessible to more people. The latest biggest price reduction is for people with pain in their peripheral joints, female and male sexual dysfunction, female urinary incontinence, chronic non-healing wounds, facial acne, and uneven skin tone. I would like to mention that middle class to low income patients in Nigeria have also benefited from some of our regenerative medicine protocols. Regardless of the cost of the procedure, you cannot put a price tag on a human life. Human life is priceless; as the famous adage goes, “Your health, your wealth.”

Do you foresee a bright future for regenerative medicine in Nigeria?

We believe that the future of regenerative medicine is inevitable, and that “conventional medicine” will only have to catch up as it usually does to new discoveries in medicine. The more people get to hear about the merits and see the evidence; it will not be long before it becomes the norm. It starts with everyday people and medical professionals doing their due diligence and doing their research as I did. My team and I are always available to answer questions about it, and we welcome it on all our social platforms as well. We really hope it catches up soon enough to maximize these great benefits for many more patients in dire need of these amazing Ikudayisi solutions.

 

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