A new treatment method offers an alternative to surgery for some women who suffer from Asherman’s Syndrome, by using stem cells to help the endometrium, the lining of the uterus, to regenerate itself.
The ilaya clinic, based in Kiev, Ukraine, is developing a treatment that uses stem cells from the patient to provide new endometrial cells in areas of uterine scarring. By using the body’s own bio-materials, the Asherman’s Syndrome treatment avoids the risks and potential complications of surgery, and the possible side effects of treatment with drugs. While the clinic has performed several successful procedures, the technology is still in its early stages, and is not suitable for all cases of Asherman’s.
ilaya’s non-surgical procedure uses a camera to scan the inside of the uterus for healthy endometrium tissue. Adult stem cells are taken from those areas, then reproduce in a laboratory for three to four weeks. Once a sufficient number has been produced, they are mixed with a gel that helps them attach to the uterine wall, and applied to the uterus using a catheter.
In suitable cases, the procedure offers an alternative to the standard surgical procedure, which the International Asherman’s Association describes as “a VERY delicate and difficult surgery”, adding that “even surgeons who have experience in other types of uterine surgery may not have the requisite skill or experience level to treat Asherman’s successfully.”
The use of stem cells from the patient’s own body reduces the risk of complications, says Dimitri Zubov, the head of ilaya’s biotechnology laboratory, who also serves as a senior research associate at Ukraine’s State Institute of Genetic and Regenerative Medicine.
ilaya’s approach is supported by recent research from the University of Warwick, which in March 2016 found that women who had suffered three or more consecutive miscarriages had a shortage of stem cells in their endometrium.
Depending on the cause of the uterine scarring, some cases of Asherman’s are treated with drugs; however, this can place a heavy burden on the patient’s liver, kidneys and other organs. These side effects are also avoided by ilaya’s stem-cell-based Asherman’s Syndrome treatment.
After the stem-cell treatment is performed, patients are ready for in vitro fertilisation or natural pregnancy; as of March 2016, ilaya’s patients for the new procedure had reported four pregnancies.
ilaya’s treatment of Asherman’s syndrome focuses on minimal invasive methods that are carried out without surgery. The majority of cases receiving a positive result are due to the procedure of applying the patients own stomal cells to the damaged site. This method is also considered to be the safest, as the patient avoids the complications that can occur during invasive surgery and subsequent risk of failure.
In the unlikely event that after treatment, our patient is still unable to conceive, the cost of treatment will be deducted from the cost of our surrogacy program if you wish to use this service.
What are stem cells?
Unlike most cells in the human body, adult stem cells are unspecialised cells that can renew themselves by cell division. They have the potential to become specialised cells, such as muscle, organ tissue or blood. While much of the research and public debate on stem cells has focused on cells from embryos, stem cells are also present in the adult human body, and divide to replicate the tissue they are found in.
These are the cells that the ilaya clinic uses in its therapies, including treatment for Asherman’s Syndrome, bone regeneration and skin renewal for burn patients. In addition to avoiding the ethical issues surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells, the use of cells from the patient’s own body avoids potential complications of other therapies.