Wahyudin lives in Indonesia and has his own story of life with type 2 diabetes. Treatment at the Swiss Medica clinic in Moscow has changed his life living with the disease. Now he can control his blood sugar levels more effectively, he has lost some excess weight and gained improvement in his vision.

First Treatment to Swiss Medica Moscow

Wahyudin first visited the clinic in December 2017. At that time, his blood sugar level easily reached over 200–250 mg/dL, whereas an average blood sugar level is 70 to 130 mg/dL. Wahyudin spent one week in the facility and was treated with stem cell infusions and intracellular metabolism recovery (IMR) therapy. After one week of treatment, he had improved control of his appetite and noted changes in his eating habits. Wahyudin could better manage his desire to eat, and his hunger was not as intense.

This change in eating habits resulted in Wahyudin losing 4.5 kg in weight, and monitoring of his blood sugar showed it at a stable level of about 120–140 mg/dL, or sometimes even below 100 mg/dL. Also, when Wahyudin ate unhealthy food, his glucose levels only increased to over 140 mg/dL, but it was still under control, at around 180 mg/dL.

Wahyudin from Indonesia was successfully treated with stem cells at the Swiss Medica Clinic.

The Second Visit to the Clinic

After six months, Wahyudin visited Swiss Medica, Moscow again to receive a second course of treatment. This time, the procedure involved using his own mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from adipose tissue (fat) and bone marrow. He also underwent a blood plasma exchange (plasmapheresis) procedure. As a result, Wahyudin’s weight dropped by another 2 kg, and his glucose levels decreased to 100–120 mg/dL. His diet became even more stable, and he could control his appetite more effectively.

Starting with the first treatment course, Wahyudin also noticed another surprising result – vision improvement. “I can drive a car in the daytime without glasses, and it is something I wasn’t able to do before,” he says. Also, after stem cell therapy, Wahyudin does not wear glasses to work on his laptop.

Hopeful for future progress after his stem cell treatment, Wahyudin is also happy that he can now use minimal medication compared to what he had to take before.

What Is Swiss Medica?

As a clinical centre in the field of regenerative medicine, which is equipped with cryobanks and laboratories, Swiss Medica provides treatment based on cell products, mostly multipotent mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Besides diabetes treatment, the medical centre specialises in managing autoimmune, cardiovascular, neurologic, metabolic and other diseases and conditions. 

Swiss Medica mostly provides treatment at two therapeutic bases in Moscow, Russia and Belgrade, Serbia. There are inpatient clinics, which are supported by a scientific research and training centre in Lugano (Switzerland). Patients can also be referred to the wellness hotel in Slovenia, which is famous for its water spring that has healing properties.

Patient Experience at Swiss Medica

All patients who have previously visited one of Swiss Medica’s clinics provide positive feedback, and their stay met their expectations. Upon application, potential patients receive a prompt reply from the clinic and can discuss all their concerns with a medical advisor. A team of medical specialists assesses the patient’s medical history, to evaluate their case and the predicted improvements using cell-based therapy. Then, according to the medical data and particular disease, a patient is provided with a therapy plan. On arrival, patients are personally met at the airport, and picked up by private taxi and taken to the clinic. Along with their treatment, patients have the use of extensive facilities.

Why Do Stem Cells Help for Type 2 Diabetes?

Recently, many research studies have shown that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) represent an advanced tool for the treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes, which is due to their immunomodulating and anti-inflammatory properties, and their ability to promote tissue recovery.

Several studies have demonstrated that MSCs, isolated from various sources, have specific effects when improving the health of people with type 2 diabetes. Scientists found that insulin requirement was reduced by ≥ 50% in 70% of patients. 30% of the patients could discontinue insulin use entirely, and this was accompanied by weight loss and an improvement in beta-cell function, after intra-pancreatic bone-marrow-derived stem cell transplantation and intravenous (IV) infusion. Besides that, an infusion of MSCs from Wharton’s jelly improved metabolic control and beta-cell function and also reduced inflammation and the incidence of diabetic complications, including diabetic retinopathy, neuropathy and nephropathy.

Also, MSCs can repair the hormone-producing (islet) cells of the pancreas. They reduce the rate of cell death (apoptosis) and release paracrine factors, which promotes vascularisation and tissue regeneration. It was demonstrated that the number of pancreatic beta cells (which synthesize and secrete insulin) increased after an infusion of MSCs, which was due to a lower inflammation rate in the pancreas.

In patients with diabetic ulcers, MSCs help to restore adequate blood circulation in the site of the ulceration and reduce ischemia. They do so by activating the resident cells and attracting the circulating progenitor cells. They also promote new vascular growth and restore the nutrient and oxygen supply to the ulcer, which speeds up epithelisation. Additional local injections of MSCs around the wound accelerate its healing.

Patient’s Improvements After Stem Cell Therapy for Type 2 Diabetes

We contacted Sergey L. Mikheev, MD, PhD, a specialist in regenerative medicine, and the chief medical officer of Swiss Medica, to clarify what advantages patients, with type 2 diabetes, treated with stem cells have.

“Previously, type 2 diabetes was considered a disease of mid-age people; however, it has become more prevalent in younger adults and children. Genetic predisposition, as well as low-physical activity and being overweight, are the main risk factors for type 2 diabetes. The disease progresses gradually, so the person may not have any symptoms at the beginning. A regular blood glucose test helps to reveal diabetes at an early stage.”

“Among the most frequent signs and symptoms of diabetes are fatigue, increased frequency in thirst and urination, enhanced hunger, weight loss, vision disturbance, non-healing wounds and an increased frequency of infections.”

We found out that stem cell therapy with MSCs provides an improvement of the following signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes:

  • Disappearance/reduction of clinical symptoms (normal blood glucose, glycated haemoglobin, control of appetite and weight, etc).
  • Reduction in insulin dose or oral hypoglycemic drug dose.
  • Restoration to a normal level of serum C-peptide.
  • Improvement in the person’s quality of life.

“As for the patients with diabetic ulcers, they can also derive benefits from cell-based therapy – the disappearance or even reduction of the clinical symptoms listed above, as well as a reduction in ulcer size or the complete healing of the ulcer. Both the transcutaneous oxygen tension and ankle-brachial index in the ulcer increase, which means an improvement in the blood supply to the ulcer. All of these lead to an overall improvement in the patient’s quality of life.”

Treatment Procedure at Swiss Medica

We asked Dr Mikheev to describe the standard procedure for stem cell treatment at Swiss Medica. “First of all, patients are examined by our specialists and undergo medical tests. Based on the patient’s medical history and results of the performed examinations and tests, we develop a personalised treatment plan and determine the most suitable source of MSCs. These could be bone marrow, adipose (fat) tissue, gingival tissue, or we consider using donor cells. The duration of the treatment depends on the stem cell source and the patient’s condition.”

“Mostly, we use local anaesthesia while harvesting MSCs from bone marrow, adipose tissue and gingival tissue. Then the cells are processed and cultivated to increase the required quantity of stem cells and to obtain the cell product with the most beneficial characteristics. Then the stem cells are introduced into the patient’s body. Depending on the treatment plan, this may be by IV infusion, intrathecal administration and/or local injection at the treatment site.”

“We may observe the first effects of the stem cell therapy as soon as one week after therapy, and then the effect gradually develops within months, as we saw in the case of Wahyudin, and with other patients. The efficacy of the treatment is assessed three and six months after the stem cell introduction. Patients undergo a routine examination, which includes a physical examination, collection of medical history and a panel of laboratory and instrumental tests.”

Wahyudin’s experience shows that there are evident benefits of stem cell therapy for patients with type 2 diabetes. While still being considered experimental, regenerative medicine methods could open new treatment paths for some diseases.

Anna Nadiryan, embryologist, cell biologist, medical writer.