Isolagen cell therapy used to treat stretch marks and gum disease

London: The skin rejuvenation technique, Isolagen, in which a patient’s own cells are grown in a lab and reinjected into wrinkles, is undergoing patient trials to treat stretch marks and gum disease.

Twenty patients at University College, London, will be treated and then monitored over three to six months. Results are expected to be announced next year.

Researchers will also be using the same procedure to try to reverse gum disease. Forty people with gum disease will be given the same injection of cells to see if they can regenerate gum tissue, and even bone, following earlier promising trials in America.

The trial will look at patients with gum recession, which affects most adults over 40. The second part of the trial will be conducted on patients with true periodontal disease, where patients have significant gum and bone loss.

Results from the gum disease trial are expected later this year, with the dental treatment itself expected to be available shortly afterwards.

In the Isolagen treatment, a 3mm piece of the patient’s own skin is taken from behind the patient’s ear. The fibroblast cells, which control the productionof collagen and elastin in skin, are extracted and stimulated in a laboratory. After six weeks the new fibroblasts are injected into the skin.

The treatment is already being successfully used as a wrinkle treatment and scientists are now investigating other uses such as scarring and burns.

Former Dynasty star fronts marketing campaign for skin rejuvenation.


New York: Emma Samms, the former Dynasty actress, is the glamorous face of Isolagen, a unique skin rejvenation system, that harnesses a person’s own cells and grows them to rejuvenate wrinkles.

This is the Isolagen process in detail:

Isolagen’s patented autologous (a patient’s own cells) living cell therapy, or ACS, begins with the injection of a local anesthetic to numb a small section of skin behind the ear. This area was chosen because of its vascularity, lack of sun exposure, and the invisibility of any scarring.

A simple punch biopsy is used to obtain a small 3 mm piece of skin tissue, which is packed in an appropriate container and shipped overnight to the Isolagen laboratories. The minimal incision is closed with an adhesive or single absorbable suture.

At Isolagen, the tissue is cultured utilizing Isolagen’s patented ACS process. This process separates collagen-producing cells, called fibroblasts, from the rest of the tissue then stimulates them to multiply into tens of millions of new cells.

After approximately six weeks, 1 to 1.5 ml of cultured fibroblasts are sent back to the doctor for injection into the patient’s wrinkles, lines, and scars.

Generally three sets of injections will be performed, about two weeks apart, with tens of millions of collagen-producing cells being injected during each visit.

Within the patient’s skin, it is believed that the injected fibroblasts will continue to multiply and create new collagen that may fill dermal imperfections and wrinkles, and may reduce the signs of aging.

Cryogenic storage of cultured cells may also permit patients to receive future treatments with cells that were harvested when the patient was younger. It is unknown at this time whether this would represent a benefit to patients.

Benefits of facial rejuvenation

Since the Isolagen Process is an autologous system (exclusively using a patient’s own cells), it is anticipated that there may be a substantially reduced possibility of allergic reaction as compared to bovine collagen and other non-natural fillers.

Isolagen hopes to demonstrate that the use of autologous cells will result in prolonged beneficial effects, as the immune system should not reabsorb or reject them as it might with foreign materials and proteins. Patients may experience gradual and continued improvement as a result of the natural activity of the re-introduced cell structure.

Considering that the standard until recently has been bovine collagen, the three potential benefits below may represent substantial advances in facial rejuvenation.

1. Bovine collagen, a foreign protein derived from cows, is generally fully reabsorbed by a patient’s body within a few months after application, leaving the patient with no visible signs of correction.

2. As additional treatments with bovine collagen are performed, there is a gradual build-up of the body’s antibodies and the development of enzymes that compromise the treatment’s effectiveness.

3. Combined with the expense and the continued intrusiveness of ongoing treatments, the value and benefit of bovine collagen injections is ultimately diminished.

Injectable fillers and implants

All of these treatments are best used for deeper lines such as deep mouth to nose and around the lips. Aimed at individuals who would prefer to avoid surgery, such as a facelift.

Autologous fat

Fat is taken from the stomach, thights or bottom and after being processed is can be injected into lips, hands, nose to mouth lines, cheeks or acne scars. The results last up to two years.

Arteplast (Artecol)

A combination of collagen and polymermethyl-methacrylate used on superficial facial lines such as the forehead.


A connective substance found naturally in the skin and which helps it maintain elasticity. As you get older it diminishes giving way to to lines, particularly around the mouth and eyes. In these procedures the collagen is created from bovine sources, steralised and suspended in saline. It is injected, using a fine needle, into the required areas that need plumping out. The effect lasts for several months and treatments can be repeated time and time again. Anyone considering this would need to have an allergy
test beforehand. About $400 to $500 for each area.


One of the new permanent injectable skin fillers that is awaiting FDA approval is polymethylmethacrylate, made from a mixture of micronized plastic spheres and bovine collagen. When polymethylmethacrylate is injected into the skin, the collagen works by holding the synthetic spheres in place until it dissipates after injection — leaving the spheres behind to prop up the wrinkles. These spheres stimulate the body’s own production of collagen, which then forms around the spheres.

One side effect of polymethylmethacrylate include permanent or long-term lumps and temporary swelling and redness, especially when used in the lips.

Hydroxyapatite with a Methylcellulose Vehicle

For patients looking for longer-lasting results than collagen but not the permanent results of polymethylmethacrylate, a new filler known as hydroxyapatite with a methylcellulose vehicle — which is currently FDA approved for other purposes — is being studied as an injectable skin filler. The synthetic compounds used in this filler contain beads of calcium hydroxyapatite, which is a substance used to replace missing bones.

Hydroxyapatite with a methylcellulose vehicle provides a temporary correction of wrinkles that lasts about one year, but the exact duration of this filler has not been demonstrated yet. If not injected properly, the calcium beads could clump together and result in lumpiness in the treated area.

Poly-L Lactic Acid

Poly-L lactic acid is not really considered a skin filler, but a “dermal stimulator” because it stimulates the skin cells to make collagen — providing a slow correction over time. Patients are treated every month for four to five months until the correct results are achieved, results typically last one to two years.

Research studies of poly-L lactic acid for FDA approval of wrinkles are just beginning and it could be a new option for patients looking for a safe, long-lasting fix for wrinkles.

Before considering any skin filler treatment, it is recommended that patients ask the following questions:

1. Are the results permanent or temporary?
2. What are the potential side effects?
3. Is the filler approved by the FDA for this use?
4. How long has the physician used the filler? How many patients has
the physician treated? Are before and after photos available?


Cells are taken from behind the patient’s ear, where there is less sun damage, and cultured in a laboratory and then injected back six to eight weeks later into the face. Isolagen was launched in the UK in 2003 and although the results are not immediate it appears that top up injections are not needed as the results last.It has also proved successful in treating acne, scars and burns. It may also be used to help receding gums. It has yet to get the go-ahead of the FDA in the US.

Hyaluronic Acid Fillers

Recently approved by the FDA as a skin filler, hyaluronic acid is a naturally-occurring component of the skin that functions by holding together collagen and elastin, providing a framework for the skin. When injected into the skin in gel form, hyaluronic acid binds to water and provides volume to easily fill in larger folds of skin around the mouth and cheeks. Patients notice an immediate plumping of the skin in the treated areas.

One of the main advantages of hyaluronic acid gel is that it does not pose an allergy risk for patients and there is no risk of transmitting animal diseases by injection. Since a skin check for allergies is not required with hyaluronic acid gel, patients can be treated on their first visit to the dermatologist. The results of hyaluronic acid last approximately four to six months and require less volume to fill wrinkles and hard-to-treat skin folds compared to collagen. The main brands are Restylane and Perlane which is a stronger version.

These are used to fill out lines as a result of ageing where the skin has lost its elasticity. The target areas include eyes lines, mouth lines, smile lines and frowns between the eyebrows. Treatment takes 10-20 minutes and results last for up to nine months before a top up treatment is necessary. There may be some redness and swelling after treatment but this normally goes in a couple of days.


Newfill is a way of resculpting the face without surgery, using an injection which consists of a saline gel with a product called Newfill, a naturally occuring polylactic acid which stimulates the body to produce its own collagen. Initially the gel fills the wrinkles and hollows, but soon disperses in the body and the patient’s own collagen is given a kick-start.

Patients usually have two sessions, at least 15 days apart, and the final result can be seen 20 days later. Results from most fillers, such as Restylane, last only three or four months, But the improvement from Newfill typically lasts for a year or longer.Th amazing thing is that Newfill has been used in surgery for the last20 years, and as a polylactic acid is found naturally in the body, and as a a result allergic reactions are rare.Unlike collagen it is not derived from animals.It can be used to treat lines on the neck as well as to rejuvenate hands, knees and ankles.

Permanent/Semi Permanent Fillers


Banned in the US because of the risks of infection and scarring but it is still used in the UK, although increasingly less so. The liquid is injected straight into wrinkles, is permanent but there is a greater risk of hard lumps.


This is a man-made breathable membrane, is used as a permenant wrinkle-filler and comes in several differnt forms such as, sheets, strips and tubes. Since it is porous the skingrows into it. Used to correct wide scars and deep wrinkles.


Made in the US from a natural deep-layer skin collected from corpses, purified and freeze-dried. Prior to use it is reconstituted using saline and implanted in sheets or strips,acting as a frame for the patient’s skin. Overtime it may be partially reabsorbed but there is little risk of rejection. A similar treatment using pig tissue is also being developed.

There is always a risk of rejection with foreign materials. The injected collagen eventually breaks down and fades away. Top-up treatments will be needed every few months, dependingon the individual. Some people develop an allergy – a test is made prior to the treatment, and a furtherone percent may show a reaction is excessive redness and swelling after treatment.
Three months and silicon and Gortex are permenant. Alloderm is semi-permanent. Recovery is immediate with perhaps some redness and swelling which will go down after a few days.Discomfort is minimal as the procedures are carried out with local anaesthetic.A hospital stay nnecesssary as it can be done in a lunch hour and is available at various clinics.
The Collagen Information Service Freefone is run by Collagen (UK) 0800 888 000.