ilaya shows off Ukraine’s competitive advantage in stem cell research

About two decades ago, scientists around the globe started attempting to introduce stem-cell technology, seeing it as a potential panacea. But it turned out that the use of stem cells can bring both help and harm.

As a result, in the European Union and the United States, all activities related to the development of such technologies and their medical use were heavily regulated. Ukrainian specialists were able to make a breakthrough in this field of treatment due to three components: ambition, lighter regulation and the resulting 15 years of experience with cellular technologies.

Stem cells, which form the basis for all other cells of the human body, were identified in the early 1960s, and called mesenchymal cells. But the question is: How can we determine what kind of tissue they will develop into – bones, cartilage, blood vessels, muscles, skin? Also, in European laboratories, chemicals are used to coax mesenchymal cells into forming bone cells. But the cells stop dividing by the 19th day, and that’s not enough time.

The ilaya clinic was created to seek solutions to these challenges. ilaya offers a range of medical services, including tissue regeneration – a field where it has almost now competitors.

ilaya opened in 2011. The clinic takes pride in its laboratory, equipped with cutting-edge technologies – Ukraine’s only GMP-certified laboratory. The construction cost alone, for a facility where everything from air circulation to personnel movements is regulated, is EUR 4,000-5,000 per square meter. The clinic also has top-class equipment; to take just one example, ilaya uses incubators with oxygen control from Binder. That function is crucial, because the oxygen content in the atmosphere and the human body is different. Keeping the oxygen in the incubators at the same level as inside the body means the cellular products are better adapted before reimplantation, and the cells’ genomes remain stable.

In 2016, only four cell products are approved for use in the EU: two for the restoration of articular cartilage, one for restoring the corneal epithelium and one therapeutic drug for the correction of a complex hereditary disease. Regulators aren’t making progress on registering more, and there’s also no rush to register new technologies in the US.

But elsewhere in the world, the popularity of stem cell therapies is soaring. This is why the use of cellular technologies in Ukraine is developing faster than in the West; it often happens that Ukrainian doctors have more experience of using cellular technologies than their colleagues from the EU and the US.

Ilaya’s license to work with stem cells permits the use of all the methods of treatment associated with cellular technologies. The clinic works within a framework of rules governing clinical trials, allowing new treatment methods to become officially available to the entire country. ilaya offers top-quality medical care based on stem cell technologies, in accordance with international standards for safety in providing medical services. In addition to the many treatment programmes we offer today, we continue to develop new technologies, increasing our international footprint.