Frequently asked questions

FAQ

Click a category & scroll down to view some of the most common questions about our clinic, protocols, and stem cells.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are cells that have not yet specialized in the body, meaning they have not grown into a particular type of cell with a specific function (e.g. muscle cell, skin cell, etc). A stem cell has the capacity to become many different cell types in the human body. There are a variety of different types of stem cells, each beneficial in their own way.

Are stem cells safe?

Yes, we have not had any patients report harmful effects from treatment or a worsening of their condition. Common short-term side effects immediately following the cell transplant have been fatigue, headache, and nausea. These effects normally subside between 1-2 hours.

Will my body reject stem cells?

Cord-tissue derived mesenchymal stem cells do not have any risk of rejection within the body. They are youthful, immune-privileged, undifferentiated cells that have no rejection in the body because they have yet to be “claimed”. There are no blood products associated with them either, removing the need for a donor match, they are universally accepted. These cells simply seek out inflammation in the body and begin to heal the damaged tissue. Mesenchymal cord tissue-derived stem cells have been administered thousands of times at clinics around the world without instances of rejection (graft vs. host disease).

What type of cells does DVC Stem use?

At DVC Stem our protocol calls for the use of 300 million cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells.

What is cord tissue?

Cord tissue is the insulating material (Wharton’s jelly) surrounding the vessels of the umbilical cord. The cord tissue can contain millions of a different type of stem cell that goes on to form a person's nervous system, sensory organs, circulatory tissues, skin, bone, cartilage and more.

Why use cord tissue?

Cord tissue is rich in mesenchymal stem cells which can be used to help heal, regenerate & treat a variety of conditions. MSCs have shown the ability to avoid a negative response from a person’s immune system, allowing the cells to be transplanted in a wide range of people without fear of rejection. These transplants vastly increase the body’s natural healing abilities and have a strong anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive response.

Does cord tissue contain live cells?

Yes it does. The tissue found inside donated umbilical cords contain millions of youthful, undifferentiated stem cells. These cells are then added to a cell media culture, which allows them to replicate and produce greater numbers over a few generations. This is called cell expansion. This process can turn a few million stem cells into trillions, ready for use in treatments. Culturing and expansion of stem cells would not be possible if the cells extracted from the original cord tissue were not alive and active.  Additionally, the cells used for treatment are tested for viability both before leaving the lab and just prior to treatment to ensure proper quality assurance standards are met. These reports can be provided to the patient for their review upon request.

Can I use my own or family members cells?

We only use AATB certified suppliers of US-donated cord tissue, and do not accept outside cords, as our FDA-registered lab in Colorado is specifically calibrated to accept cords from these suppliers with strict specifications. Accepting cords from outside sources puts quality control into question, and would require the production process to stop within the lab to avoid cross-contamination issues.

While this can be done, it would be at greatly heightened time and cost, for no biological benefit. Medically, there is no difference between cord sources for isolated cord tissue derived MSCs. Cord tissue stem cells are essentially “unclaimed” and immuno-priviledged, so there is no noted benefit to use cells from a family member.

Can stem cells via IV cause clots or embolisms?

No, our protocol calls for the administration of the cells  at a slow rate of 1cc per minute by hand by the physician to ensure control of the infusion. This method ensures the prevention of clots and other complications.  There have been no reported cases of clots or embolisms from intravenous treatment.

Do the cells have to donor matched by HLA type?

Our protocol uses cord tissue derived stem cells, not cord blood. As there are no blood products used, there is no HLA matching required. Cord tissue derived MSCs are essentially “brand new” and immuno-priviledged, unclaimed by the body. They face no rejection when used in the body as a treatment, and we have never had a single instance of a long-term adverse reaction reported in any patient. Unlike some other forms of treatment, no donor match is required prior to treatment.

Is there any chance of getting graft vs host disease?

No, because there are no blood products involved in the infusion.  The cells are immuno-privileged, meaning that they don’t have markers on them that would trigger an immune response in the body. They are essentially "unclaimed" until delivered into the body.

Are the stem cells frozen?

One of the benefits of cord tissue-derived stem cells is that they are always available for use without delay. Directly after expansion, the cells are cryogenically preserved in a protective solution at -150F, similarly to how eggs or sperm are stored for future use in IVF. Once ready for use, the cells are carefully brought to the appropriate temperature and immediately tested for cell count and viability to ensure they meet all necessary quality assurance (QA) standards. Any cells which do not meet the optimum standards (viability numbers) are not used in treatments.

What treatments do you offer?

We currently offer the latest in Cord Tissue-Derived, Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy, which can be deployed systemically via IV, or injected locally to target specific sites, depending on patient needs. Our cells are only sourced from American Association of Tissue Bank (AATB) certified suppliers of full term, ethically US donated human umbilical cords. Our treatment protocols are independently IRB reviewed by a medical board in the US to ensure our practices are safe and within good standing in the medical community.

Will your protocol help my specific condition?

The stated primary goal of our protocol is the marked reduction in the levels of chronic low-grade inflammation for an extended period of time.

Stem cells have a unique, intrinsic property that attracts them to inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that stem cells can regenerate damaged or diseased tissues, reduce inflammation and modulate the immune system promoting better health and quality of life.

Depending on the primary ailment or initial  condition of the patient, the effects of stem cell therapy can lead to a reduction in harmful symptoms, stabalization of condition and a significant quality of life improvement.

Do I need more than one treatment?

We do not have a policy for requiring repeat treatments. Our patients have shown little to no signs of regressions for up to 18 months post-treatment. Some do choose to return for follow on treatment voluntarily, either to gain further benefits or to maintain their improvements. We generally do not recommend more than one treatment per year.

How long does it take to see results?

We advise patients that stem cell therapy normally produces measurable results within 3-6 months following treatment. This would be indicated by a marked reduction in levels of inflammation. However, we have had many patients record improvements to their quality of life and a lessening of their symptoms within the first few weeks following treatment. Every patient is unique and will respond to treatment differently.

How long do the effects of treatment last?

Patient response to treatment is dependent on a large variety of biological factors, however is also subject to the behavior and lifestyle of the patient. Patients who adhere to an active lifestyle, anti-inflammatory diet, and restrict the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine can seen sustained results for 2+ years, depending on condition. On average, we have seen little signs of regression out to 18 months following treatment and patients rarely return to their pre-treatment state.

Do you treat orthopedic conditions?

DVC Stem specializes in the systemic treatment of conditions such as chronic inflammation, autoimmune/degenerative conditions, and wear and tear. We are not specialized for orthopedic issues, and do not provide guided treatments for the joints and spine. We are able to offer limited site injections as an addition to our systemic treatment upon request.

How long is the treatment process?

Our treatments consist over a two-day period including the IV transplant of 300 Million cord tissue-derived MSCs, as well as a variety of therapies designed to aid stem cell activation and potency including physiological assessment and pre-treatment cell activation therapies. The procedure is minimally invasive (single IV transfusion) and has very little downtime. You will be able to travel the day after treatment.

How do these treatments differ from those in the US?

Despite the clinical evidence, the United States still has very strict regulations and laws against stem cell treatments. While you may find many clinics in the US offering “stem cell therapies”, these therapies are highly restricted in scope and number of cells used, or simply send you outside the US for treatment. These clinics usually draw patients in and then refer them to places like Mexico or Panama, where regulations are much looser and the source of the cells used is unknown. This can be both an unpleasant and an unsafe choice. It is currently not legal to obtain expanded Allogeneic treatment inside the US. The expansion is what allows the high cell numbers needed for effective treatment. It is because of these laws in the US that many have traveled abroad to receive the latest therapies, including many high-profile athletes and celebrities. It has created a booming medical tourism industry in the last decade. DVC Stem seeks to provide patients with safe and effective treatments, in a safe, luxurious, and beautiful setting.

Where do your stem cells come from?

DVC Stem is partnered with Vitro Biopharma, an award-winning medical laboratory located in Golden, Colorado, which is fully FDA registered, cGMP compliant, ISO 9001, and ISO 13485 certified. Cells are only sourced from the American Association of Tissue Bank (AATB) certified suppliers of full-term, ethically US donated human umbilical cords. The selection of these donated tissues is extremely regulated and strict. All of our cells are expanded using safe and standard protocols and are then flown overnight in sub-zero containers directly to our clinic for immediate treatment. To ensure maximum treatment effectiveness, our cells are expanded to as much as 300 million cells before being administered. For more info on our partner lab, visit www.vitrobiopharma.com.

Why do you use cord tissue-derived stem cells?

DVC Stem uses cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells sourced from US-donated, full-term human umbilical cords. While other common sources of stem cells are fat tissue or bone marrow taken from the patient directly, there are many benefits to using cord tissue. Cord tissue-derived cells are essentially "new", in their most primal state, free from the effects of aging or disease. Stem cells age as we age and cells taken from a patient are affected by the condition of the patient at the time of extraction. There is even evidence to suggest that cells extracted from patients with existing medical conditions risk reintroducing these symptoms when used in treatments. Cord tissue-derived stem cells eliminate that risk. Additionally, they are readily available, in great supply, and are minimally invasive to the patient, without the need for any extractions, free from immune rejection, and have zero risks of transferring viruses or other communicable diseases.

Does umbilical cord tissue contain live stem cells?

Yes it does. The tissue found inside donated umbilical cords is called Wharton’s Jelly and contains millions of youthful, undifferentiated stem cells. These cells are then added to a cell media culture, which allows them to replicate and produce greater numbers over a few generations. This is called cell expansion. This process can turn a few million stem cells into trillions, ready for use in treatments. Culturing and expansion of stem cells would not be possible if the cells extracted from the original cord tissue were not alive and active.  Additionally, the cells used for treatment are tested for viability both before leaving the lab and just prior to treatment to ensure proper quality assurance standards are met.

Who performs the treatment?

Dr. Cona performs every treatment. We make sure to schedule no more that 2 patients per day so every patient has our full undivided attention during the treatment proccess.

How much does treatment cost?
Is stem cell therapy covered by insurance?

No, treatment costs are not commonly covered by standard insurance.

What lab do you get your cells from?

DVC Stem is partnered with Vitro Biopharma, an award-winning medical laboratory located in Golden, Colorado, which is fully FDA registered, cGMP compliant, ISO 9001, and ISO 13485 certified. Cells are only sourced from the American Association of Tissue Bank (AATB) certified suppliers of full-term, ethically US donated human umbilical cords. The selection of these donated tissues is extremely regulated and strict. All of our cells are expanded using safe and standard protocols and are then flown overnight in sub-zero containers directly to our clinic for immediate treatment. To ensure maximum treatment effectiveness, our cells are expanded to as much as 300 million cells before being administered. For more info on our partner lab, visit www.vitrobiopharma.com.

What makes DVC Stem different from other clinics?

It is important to note that DVC Stem sources cells from a FDA registered, cGMP compliant, ISO 9001, and ISO 13485 certified lab in the United States. This means that the patient receives only the highest quality, regulated mesenchymal cord tissue-derived stem cells. We are highly regulated by the Cayman Islands government, and legally able to provide expanded cell therapy.

When looking for a reputable stem cell therapy clinic it is important to ask them; where their cells come from, how many cells you will receive and what sort of treatment protocol they follow. It is important to note that under-regulated clinics can extract stem cells from a variety of sources, not all of which are safe & effective.

How are cells transported?

All of our cells are expanded using safe and standard protocols and are then flown overnight in sub-zero cryogenic containers directly to our clinic for immediate treatment.

Are the cells viable (alive)?

Yes, to ensure maximum treatment effectiveness, all of our cells are tested for viability prior to treatment.

Where does Vitro Biopharma source tissue from?

Vitro Biopharma only uses American Association of Tissue Bank (AATB) certified suppliers of full term (>36 weeks), donated human umbilical cords. The selection of these donated tissues is extremely regulated and strict. The cords are tested for STDs, Hep A/B/C/D, TB, Zika virus, no history of cancer or chronic illness, no history of autoimmune diseases, no tattoos or piercings, no travel abroad with one year, no history of CJD, negative for HIV, negative for HTLV 1 AND 2, and no history of drug or alcohol abuse. After the tissue is vigorously screened and accepted, Vitro then uses their clinical-grade and award-winning proprietary culture medium to expand the stem cells out to roughly 300 million cells per treatment.

Is there some sort of quality control involved?

Once the stem cells have been expanded to treatment-ready numbers, they still undergo quality control testing before release. Cells are rigorously tested for potency, blood-borne pathogens, contaminating agents, fungal presence, cellular ATP levels, and proper growth rates. The entire production process is completed in a certified sterile clean room, which must meet all regulations by the FDA, ISO, and CLIA. Additionally, all lab employees are required to be properly trained with documentation on file for review. All of these steps ensure the highest quality of output from Vitro Biopharma.Once the cells are ordered and ready for use, they are held in sub zero cryo-storage, and shipped overnight to DVC Stem in the Cayman Islands for immediate use for a patient’s treatment.

Where is DVC Stem located?

DVC Stem is located in Grand Cayman, a small island paradise in the Caribbean. The Cayman Islands is an English-speaking British Overseas Territory and hosts over 2 million tourists a year. There are many direct flights to Grand Cayman from major cities in the U.S. and Europe. DVC Stem is located within the Da Vinci Centre a large modern medical facility directly on Seven Mile Beach.

Where is Grand Cayman?

The Cayman Islands, a dependency of the United Kingdom, are located in the Caribbean Sea about 160 kilometers south of Cuba and 290 kilometers northwest of Jamaica. This British Crown Colony consists of three islands: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman.

How do I get there?

Currently due to the COVID-19 pandemic there are roughly 2-3 flights per week that depart from Miami. All visitors must book their travel via Cayman Airways and apply for approval with the Cayman Islands Government. You can learn more about entry process here.

Is your facility licensed?

Yes, DVC Stem is based at the Da Vinci Centre and is fully licensed and inspected by the government of the Cayman Islands. As a British Overseas Territory, healthcare regulations are extremely strict, on par with the US, UK, and EU. Additionally, our entire medical staff is fully registered and licensed, and our stem cell protocols are IRB reviewed and approved by a board in the United States.

What treatments do you offer?

We currently offer the latest in Cord Tissue-Derived, Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy, which can be deployed systemically via IV, or injected locally to target specific sites, depending on patient needs. Our cells are only sourced from American Association of Tissue Bank (AATB) certified suppliers of full term, ethically US donated human umbilical cords. Our treatment protocols are independently IRB reviewed by a medical board in the US to ensure our practices are safe and within good standing in the medical community.

Do you treat orthopedic conditions?

DVC Stem specializes in the systemic treatment of conditions such as chronic inflammation, autoimmune/degenerative conditions, and wear and tear. We are not specialized for orthopedic issues, and do not provide guided treatments for the joints and spine. We are able to offer limited site injections as an addition to our systemic treatment upon request.

Is your clinic located in a safe area?

Yes, we are located directly on Seven Mile Beach one of the safest areas in Grand Cayman.

Is DVC Stem currently accepting patients?

Yes, DVC Stem is still operating and it is possible to visit the Cayman Islands to receive treatment.

Are the borders of the Cayman Islands open?

The borders of the Cayman Islands are in a phased reopening process, which will expand within the next couple of months. This means that the airport is open but travel must be approved by the Cayman Islands Government & all visitors must participate in a mandatory 14 day quarantine. Vaccinated travellers will only have to quarantine for 10 days.

How do I get there?

Currently due to the COVID-19 pandemic there are roughly 2-3 flights per week that depart from Miami. All visitors must book their travel via Cayman Airways and apply for approval with the Cayman Islands Government. You can learn more about entry process here.

When do the border restrictions ease?

We are expecting the border restrictions to be fully lifted for vaccinated travellers by June 2021.

Will my treatment price include the cost of quarantine?

Travel and accommodation are not included in the base treatment cost. However, we are offering patients a $1500 compassionate treatment allowance for those who would like to receive treatment to help cover the additional cost of quarantine. This treatment allowance will be in place until all quarantine restrictions are lifted in the Cayman Islands.

What sort of results can I expect from treatment?

We only offer treatments for conditions that have medical research backing positive results and no harmful side effects. Dozens of studies have shown the efficacy of stem cell therapies for various degenerative diseases, and we have had great success from our past patients. Patients normally experience an increase in mobility, feeling, balance, strength & energy along with a reduction in stress and pain levels. However, it is impossible to guarantee any specific result for an individual, as every person’s body is different and will respond in different ways.

How long have you been providing cell therapy?

Dr. Cona has been treating patients with regenerative medicine for over 10 years.

How do you measure results?

We measure inflammation markers and telomere length both pre and post treatment. We also follow up with patients at 3, 6, 9 and 12 month mark intervals with vitality questionnaires. These are extremely important because they measure each individual patients subjective opinion on what treatment accomplished.

Will I have to come back for treatment?

Our official treatment protocol does not require that patients repeat treatment. Our goal is to help manage symptoms and slow progression, so that our patients won't have to return. We have not seen any patients who have reported a worsening of their symptoms within 1 year of treatment so far.