Stem cell transplants
The Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc are at the leading edge of cell therapy and stem cell transplantation in particular. A growing number of patients are now receiving these innovative treatments.
The distinctive feature of stem cells is that they are able to transform into any cell of the human body. As they multiply they can differentiate into skin cells, bone cells, liver cells, pancreatic cells, etc. It is a class of new "live drugs" called "Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products".
Adipose and hepatic derived stem cells
At the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc, adipose and hepatic derived stem cells can currently be offered as an alternative therapy for tissue lesions (bone, skin, soft tissues...) or also for the restoration of deficient hepatic functions.
These cells are "alive" and belong to a specific class of drugs, called "Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products".
The adipose-derived and hepatic stem cells banks are part of the "Centre for Cellular and Tissue Therapy".
Adipose-derived stem cell transplant for tissue repair (soft tissues, bone)
Adipose tissue derived stem cells can be used to reconstruct bone structures, skin lesions or soft tissues.
These cells are obtained through a seeding of adipose tissue from the patient (autologous cells) or from a donor (allogenous cells).
The culture process is performed in the white rooms of the Centre for cellular and tissue therapy. The culture takes several weeks after which the cells can be used clinically.
Hepatic stem cells
Many congenital metabolic diseases are due to the absence of an enzyme normally produced by the liver. By implanting hepatic stem cells from a healthy donor, the aim is to correct the enzyme deficiency. Moreover, these cells have immunomodulatory and anti-fibrotic properties that can be exploited in acquired liver diseases.
With his team, Professor Étienne Sokal, head of the Paediatric Gastroenterology and Hepatology Department of the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc, has developed a medication based on hepatic stem cells. At present this innovative cell therapy is being studied and tested in hepatic-origin metabolic diseases (urea cycle defects, organic aciduria, Crigler-Najjar syndrome), but also in certain coagulation factor deficiencies (in haemophilia, for example), certain inflammatory conditions (acute or chronic hepatitis) and in immune-based disorders such as rejection and/or progressive fibrosis after organ transplantation.
Other sources of stem cells
Other tissular sources (Wharton's jelly from the umbilical cord for example, pancreatic cells or mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow) are also assessed and are subject to pre-clinical development (translational research) at the Experimental and Clinical Research Institute.
Coming to the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc for cell therapy
- International patients wishing to benefit from cell therapy must be referred by a Department of the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc. In fact, the adipose-derived stem cell transplantations carried out by the Adipose Tissue Bank are always arranged in double consultation with the concerned Department : orthopaedics or neurosurgery for bone reconstruction and plastic surgery or dermatology for skin reconstruction.
- International patients wishing to form part of the clinical studies currently under way into hepatic stem cells are asked to contact the Paediatric Gastroenterology and Hepatology Department of the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc.