The conversation surrounding stem cell research and treatment can get muddled and confusing. Some say it’s a miracle cure while others say it’s not viable or practical as a treatment method. So what’s real and what’s just hype? In this episode, Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen are again joined by stem cell research scientist Dr. Todd Ovokaitys to shed some light on the truth about stem cells, how they are implemented to repair the body, and how they really work to rejuvenate ailing body systems.
For more on Dr. Todd Ovokaitys, visit his page at: http://drtoddo.com/
Daniel Amen, MD:
Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel. Amen.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
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Daniel Amen, MD: This is really the Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast. Brain warriors are into science. We want you to be armed, prepared, and aware to win the fight of your life, and what better tool to use then your own body to help you heal. Obviously, you have the eat right and exercise, get the right nutrients to put your body in a healing environment. But the idea of being able to use your own stem cells, it’s pretty exciting.
Todd, talk to us about what you think is really the truth about how people can use stem cells in their own lives. What do you think is hype and what do you think there’s actually solid science to support?
Dr. Todd Ovokaitys: Very good question. Our work really has focused on a very special type of stem cell that is kind of like, I would call it God’s gift to stem cells. It’s astounding the implications of it, what it is, what it does, how it works. And if we really had the time, I could go through the menu for different types of situations, what would be the preferred type of stem cell. And that is an evolving art.
From the downside, from the aspect of where is the hype that is over promising and not delivering, I believe it’s largely from those areas where allogeneic stem cells are produced. They may have some benefits because for a period of time in the body, they’re making growth and repair factors, but it can be very variable. The cells probably are not going to incorporate in any meaningful way. And there is a lot more promise than can actually be delivered, and there’s a lot of that going on.
Then we get into the autologous world and there are strengths and limitations of the different types of autologous cells. The limitations of the mesenchymal stem cells from fat are that the older the person gets the older the stem cells get and the less effective they become. It’s known that the stem cells from fat from a 20-year-old person are much more active and effective rather than from a 70-year-old person for example. In addition, the cells are big. The average size is 12 to 30 microns, which is okay if you’re going to inject them as is into say a joint space.
But if you want to use them say for neuronal repair or for cardiac repair, or at least to turn back the aging clock, if you inject them intravenously, as you know, the first place it goes to is the right side of the heart and the pulmonary circulation, and preliminary capillaries are only about six microns in diameter. You don’t very effectively get a 12 to 30 micron ball through a six micron tube. If you deliver them intravenously, they basically lodge in the lung.
And there again, they may provide a chemical factory, growth and repair factories that can have systemic effect and there can be benefits. But other than wanting to get them to the lung, where it might be useful for COVID-19, for example, and some studies are showing some benefits there, that they’re not likely to get to a target organ that you want them to go to and incorporate as cells in that tissue.
The work around the revelation, the aha moment, is that there is a special type of cell called, the technical phrase is very, very small embryonic-like stem cell or VSEL, and the abbreviated name is a V-Cell. And what’s unique about these cells is that for unknown reasons, at or around the time that we are born, these cells go into hibernation. What’s unique is that they are truly very small, typically two to four microns in size, and they’re also truly pluripotential, which means that they can literally become, depending upon the chemical or cellular environment you put them in, any type of cell in the body.
Not only that, because they can go into hibernation around the time we’re born, their telomeres are at a newborn caliber, and they tend to remain at newborn caliber throughout life. Whether someone is 5 or 10 or 50 or 90 years old, their V-Cells may be just as robust, active, and potent as the day they were born, literally having saved their own cord blood and circulating it around their bodies their whole life.
What we have proven in the laboratory work in the UK with a collaborator named, Dr. Peter Hollands, is that we have effectively developed a method just from someone’s peripheral blood to separate and concentrate these cells. And then with our photoacoustic method, also to awaken the cells from their lifelong slumber. And then once they are awakened and functional, metabolically active, and we give them intravenously, because they are so small, only two to four microns in size, they easily can get through the pulmonary circulation and go anywhere through the body.
And the next step is using the photoacoustic signal, the song of the stem cells, we can direct that beam usually from a few different directions. Where the beam overlaps is the strongest signal for exactly where we want the cells to go three dimensionally in tissue. At any age, these cells can be used to go anywhere in the body three dimensionally and turn back the clock in essence to newborn cells.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Every individual pretty much has these cells and you have learned how to isolate these cells from the rest of the cells?
Dr. Todd Ovokaitys: Right.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: That’s pretty wild.
Daniel Amen, MD: And you’re getting them, you said, from peripheral blood, so just stick a needle in someone’s-
Tana Amen, BSN RN: That’s so crazy.
Daniel Amen, MD: … vein in their arm. And then how long does it take you to identify these cells, and then do you then go and grow them? Or how does that all work?
Dr. Todd Ovokaitys: Well, the beauty of it is that we have validated in a general way the cell separation and concentration method, which is very efficient. For a systemic anti-aging treatment, we just draw 60 CCs of blood or six tubes of 10 CCs each and our preparation process takes 30 or 45 minutes. We harvest an adequate number of cells that we don’t need to expand them. We’re not really allowed to anyway in the US, but we don’t need to. Within an hour of the procedure starting, the cells are separated, concentrated, and activated, awakened, and can be delivered intravenously. And then the next process is about 20 to 25 minutes for that person’s highest priorities for tissue regeneration to go from one area to the next to the next.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Wow. That’s a really short process for something so… That is so interesting. I want to do this. I really want to do this. I turned 51, and I felt as soon as I turned 50, I really felt it just like… Aging does not happen in a linear fashion. It just like all of a sudden there was this massive jump.
Daniel Amen, MD: One of the things I’m really interested in, Tana and I, we’ve talked about this, had a hysterectomy 18 months ago?
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Two years ago.
Daniel Amen, MD: Two years ago [crosstalk [00:09:12] and just the general anesthesia really did a number on her brain. [crosstalk [00:09:16] When I scanned her, it was significantly less active. And what I think our work would be really interesting together is I have her baseline scan, if you did the photoacoustic stimulation in her brain after you injected her, would that show improvement in cognitive function, brain function?
Tana Amen, BSN RN: And not just my brain. What I noticed was… He often jokes that the only time I scare him is when I act like a girl, and I often joke that I felt like I was neutered after that surgery. My drive, I just felt lethargic. And what I’m hearing you say is, it sort of gives you this vitality back. If I’m hearing you correctly, depending on what the application is.
Dr. Todd Ovokaitys: Right, certain stem cells.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: And so, yeah, I mean, I would love to try it. What’s the harm? I mean, I’m sure there are some risks and we should probably talk about risks, but that’s really interesting. I’m fascinated. I’m in.
Daniel Amen, MD: Well, and so talking about going to vulnerable areas, one, general overall health and vitality. But you tell me in your experience, where have you seen it really work well and people are really happy, and areas where it just doesn’t work well and people are disappointed?
Dr. Todd Ovokaitys: We have had very good results, and our most extensive experience is with neurologic, cardiac and joint issues. If we’re talking about localized areas where there are symptomatic issues that can be improved, if there’s literally more healthy cells and the area to do that tissue’s job. In general, we tend to get good results with those areas. And sometimes it’s really surprising how quickly it can work.
One of our really amazing cases was a Harvard research neuroscientists, so he really knew the brain very, very well. And he had suffered quadriplegia at 300 feet under the water. He, apparently, got an air embolism and a spinal artery at depth, and couldn’t move his arms and legs. And ultimately survived it and recovered some function, but was left with a variety of defects, including neurogenic numbness in his left leg and no sensation in the palms of his hands.
And what was amazing was that only three hours after we did the treatment, the numbness in his left leg that he’d had for 35 years was nearly gone. It was really the [crosstalk [00:12:15] same as the other side. And so that suggests, as he said, his theory was that they are idling neurons, that if you give them vital active energetic cells around them, it can recruit idling neurons to be more rapidly active, like almost flipping a switch. That was a rapid effect.
And then a slow effect was what he described with the palms of his hands, which is he couldn’t differentiate say a key from a coin in his pocket. He’d have to take it out and actually look on the counter and pick it out. And that over several weeks, he started having more and more sensation. He could actually tell one object for another, but it took probably about three or four months altogether before he said 90% of the sensation was back. And he felt that probably suggested new neuronal generation, so [inaudible [00:13:08] more information and reconnection of new nerves. It can be rapid effects and slower effects.
Now for heart failure, we did a study in Armenia where we gave the cells IV, as is our protocol, and then directed them through this photoacoustic process to the heart. I know it was five minutes of direction from the anterior chest, five minutes from the left lateral chest. And I’m a pulmonary specialist by trade so I know exactly where the heart lives inside of the chest three dimensionally. And the comparison was a meta analysis of almost 1500 patients where those treatments were given intercoronary or intramuscular in the heart. And the average improvement in function in that meta analysis was about an 8% increase in cardiac phone over six months. In contrast, our cell give IV with this photoacoustic direction, instead of 8% at six months, we had 14% in three days.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Wow.
Dr. Todd Ovokaitys: Which increased to 25% in one month, 37% in two months, and plateaued at 50% in three months.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Oh my gosh. That’s what I was going to ask you is, did it last? But it didn’t just last, it actually kept improving.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: Wow. That’s amazing.
Daniel Amen, MD: That’s really good. When we come back, we’re going to talk more about the practical application.
Tana Amen, BSN RN: And I want to know some of the risks. We want to talk about risks and side effects.
Daniel Amen, MD: And costs for people as well. Yeah, it’s just so fascinating. We’re so grateful to Dr. Todd. To learn more about his clinic and his work, you can go to drtoddo.com. You can also go to brainwarriorswaypodcast.com. Leave us a comment, question or review. We would be grateful. You can also, if you call Amen Clinics and say you were referred by the Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, you can get a discount off of our service. We’re always grateful for that. Stay with us.
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