Dr. David Ikudayisi is the Medical Director, Glory Wellness and Regenerative Centre , a multi-specialty health care center, in Lagos and Abuja. He is a United States Board Certified Internist and has passion for regenerative, aesthetic and cosmetic medicine. He spoke to Onyebuchi Ezigbo on what Nigerians stand to gain from the evolving innovation in the medical field.
What makes Regenerative Medicine significantly different from conventional medicine, and why would you recommend it for anyone in need of treatment?
It is great to see that Nigeria is catching up with the possibilities of Regenerative Medicine for our health. 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 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 minimising adverse effects confers on Regenerative Medicine a considerably greater safety profile than conventional medicine.
RegenerativeMedicine is not the secret sauce to fix all health problems. However, it is a great tool provided by modern medicine to provide an answer to many health challenges that conventional medicine had deemed unfixable. Conditions that have been considered incurable by conventional medicine due to their degenerative effects, are now made “curable” in the practical sense as Regenerative Medicine takes care of the organ degenerative.
Thescientific/physiological bases of the therapeutic effects of Regenerative Medicine, specifically adult stem cell therapy, creates endless opportunities for its application. Think about it this way, if the medical condition is of a degenerative nature, then Regenerative Medicine can be a viable option.
I will continue to recommend Regenerative Medicine to anyone in need of treatment because where conventional 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.
What is the scope of this branch of medicine? Can treat only select ailments or all manner of sicknesses.
The scope of application is broad and multisystemic. This means 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.
As I mentioned earlier, Regenerative Medicine is not here to replace other branches of medicine. Like other new 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.
Here at Glory Wellness & Regenerative Centre in Lagos, Nigeria, 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). All patients with autoimmune disorders can also 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% 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.
What feedback are you getting from those who have accessed this branch of medicine?
Many of the patients treated at Glory wellness and Regenerative Centre are delighted at their results, so much so that they are spreading the word person to person. We get a great number of them who are so pleasantly surprised of the outcome, as they also see improvements in areas they did not even think to mention to us. It is noteworthy that the therapeutic benefits they have received from Regenerative Medicine had been practically impossible with conventional medicine hence their satisfaction, joy, and excitement.
An example is the case of a man with left testicular atrophy and low testosterone. After one session of Autologous treatment, the left testicle grew back to normal size and the production of testosterone significantly increased. People who have infertility issues, both male and female, should not give up without considering one of the Regenerative Medicine protocols, especially those women that have tried IVF without success.
What is the level of acceptability of Regenerative Medicine in Nigeria and across the world?
There is great interest amongst those needing these therapies. However, the challenge facing Regenerative Medicine in Nigeria is the lack of awareness to its benefits. One of the needful 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 potentials of these therapies world-wide, amongst the ill needing medical breakthroughs. While it is soon becoming a part of the status quo of modern medicine, the endless potentials have continued to encourage even more research to unravel it. This has resulted in even more ground-breaking findings on the application of Regenerative Medicine.
As with any new dogma or ideas in medicine, there are pockets of opposition to Regenerative Medicine. Some of the opposition come 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.
Many people believe that being a new branch of medicine, it will be expensive to access. Is it so?
It is truly 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 on 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.”
Now, let’s talk about the success rate of Regenerative Medicine for those who have accessed treatment?
The success rate has been generally high both in the USA and Nigeria at all the centers where I work. The results differ from one patient to another, and some other centers do have low success rates. I too have had a couple of patients with delayed onset of effectiveness of treatment or patients needing additional or second treatment sessions before they begin to see positive results. It is important to mention or remind ourselves that there is no guarantee in medicine despite the hype surrounding Adult Stem cell Therapy or Regenerative Medicine as a whole. It does not work 100 percent of the time. Nonetheless, there is a very high success rate amongst the patients with non-bleeding Acute Stroke when treatment is done within a couple of days to few weeks, with the goal of preventing permanent residual symptoms post stroke. This was evident in all our non-hemorrhagic Acute Stroke patients that we treated directly at our facility or through consultation in other hospitals, ranging from a top government official to a low-income grandmother. The general rule of thumb is that the earlier the treatment is given in acute injuries, the higher the success rate.
What motivated you to specialise in Regerative medicine and how do you feel being the pioneer of this branch of medicine in Nigeria?
It is a privilege and a blessing to be a pioneer of Regenerative Medicine in this country. A country that has given so much to me. It is also a huge responsibility and challenge considering the radically different nature of the Nigerian social, economic, and business climate by comparison to the western experience abroad.
My interest was first drawn into Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (another subcategory of Regenerative Medicine), which involves using the patient’s own blood to stimulate and accelerate repair of the damage tissues and organs in the body. This happened when I was looking for a way to get my patients off medications that were likely to lead to chronic addiction. I realized that a modern way of processing Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) which produces a more effective PRP Therapy, unlike what some doctors experienced a decade or two before, was now possible: as well as the use of Autologous Adult Stem Cells as a tool for therapy. The results that we were getting at the medical center where I worked in USA blew my mind away that I had no option but to investigate these therapies even further. As I did my research, I began to develop a very strong passion for this novel branch of medicine. It was clear even then the endless possibilities that was now available for my patients.
How can Regenerative Medicine help in stemming the tide of COVID-19?
One of the Regenerative Medicine protocols (which we also have available in at Glory Wellness & Regenerative Centre) 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 trial. While we are not a COVID-19 treating center, 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.
What can you say about the future of Regenerative Medicine. How bright is it?
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 solutions.