Brain-boosting stem-cell therapies at a Dubai health clinic can delay the ageing process and rebuild tissue to halt mental decline, doctors have said.
It may not be the answer to eternal youth but treatments at Aviv Clinic have proved to improve mental alertness, physical performance and could be used to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Treatment includes oxygen therapy sessions where patients are confined to a hyperbaric chamber.
The process tricks the body into producing more stem cells – known to be the key to life and the building blocks of new tissue and oxygen-carrying blood vessels.
Research at the Sagol Centre for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research in Israel was led by Dr Shai Efrati, an expert in the field who has now opened a clinic in Dubai offering age-defying medical treatments.
“What we are doing in medicine is taking people below their average age and making them well,” he said.
“Genetics are responsible for less than 5 per cent of our age-related health problems and physical decline.
“The most powerful signal we have in our body is hypoxia, a lack of oxygen. The body senses there is a problem, so naturally begins to replicate the growth of new stem cells.
“We can trick the body to take the oxygen to a very high level in the blood and then do a fast decline back to a normal level.
“The body interprets this process as hypoxia and is tricked to produce more stem cells.”
Newborn babies are flooded with stem cells as new tissue is at a stage of rapid growth but that level deteriorates as we age, leading to mental and physical decline.
The World Health Organisation estimates that from 2000 to 2050, the rate of growth of the population over 65 in the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait will increase by 5 per cent.
The shift in the GCC countries’ population demographics could result in an increase in the possible number of people who may be susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The hyperbaric oxygen therapy (Hbot) is a non-pharmaceutical, non-invasive method that involves administering patients with a pure oxygen in a pressurised environment.
The process accelerates normal organ function and tissue repair.
Early detection is crucial
Studies by Sagol School of Neuroscience in Tel Aviv and Tel Aviv University have shown that Hbot has proved effective in reversing the main activators and early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
“If you start to monitor and treat people early, there should be no reason for them to get Alzheimer’s,” said Dr Efrati.
“Brain function should be monitored as it is the core of the entire body and more checks and interventions need to be done to maintain that and avoid serious decline.
“We can develop an Alzheimer’s-free community. That is the number one threat to our society, economically it will have a huge impact.
“If people can live better for longer, they will require less health care and pass on their knowledge to others. It will take Homo sapiens to the next level.”
A deep dive into established methods
Inside the Aviv Clinic, huge compressions force air out of hyperbaric chambers, forcing air molecules closer together to allow oxygen to dissolve into the body’s tissues more easily.
The concept has been around for many years and is used to recompress deep-sea divers to remove nitrogen from their blood.
It has also been used to repair tissue in burns victims, before more recent developments in rebuilding brain tissue by regenerating new blood vessels and stem cells.
Patients at the clinic undergo a three-day assessment to evaluate their physical and mental state to give doctors an idea of the baseline ability of performance.
Therapy is complete for two hours a day, five days a week across 12 weeks.
“It is reconditioning the body, so these changes cannot be made overnight,” Mike Frayne, chief executive of Aviv Clinics in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai.
“If new tissue grows, that improvement is locked in. With new MRI-scanning equipment we can see the improvements made to blood flow and brain function.”
The therapy can also be used to treat traumatic brain injuries, strokes and even long Covid.
Special paediatric hyperbaric chambers can also help children who have some kind of brain disorder to redress the deficit in their brain tissue.
No costs were given for a course of therapy but doctors said about 1,000 people had benefited from the treatment at clinics in Israel and the US.
“Stem cells are the body’s universal soldier and go anywhere in the body where they are required to grow new tissue,” said Mr Frayne.
“This therapy can encourage healthy ageing and reverse some of the natural degradation of brain tissue.
“Eventually the price will come down and this will become mainstream.”