Stem Cell Therapy – Expanding The Frontiers Of Medicine


OUR body is designed to repair itself, detoxify, and protect us from infections caused by microbes and the development of tumours among others health issues.

The troop of soldiers only fails when they are outnumbered by invading forces or the soldiers are weak. The ability to self-heal and self-repair is the basis for cellular therapy where healthy cells are placed in the body to replace damaged, diseased, and aged cells to overhaul the army back to strength.

Cellular therapy provides an alternative to drugs that may have side effects, especially in the treatment of cancer. Not only drugs but in some cases surgeries could also be avoided.

Way forward with cellular therapy

Cellular therapy or regenerative therapy is not all that new. It dates back to the 19th century but like all new and emerging technologies, especially in the medical field, it needs to be tested thoroughly.

Today, this therapy looks much more realistic. Malaysia can now be the proud host of a local company that offers cellular therapy.

Cellaax Therapy is a biopharmaceutical company founded in 2019 through a strategic alliance with 23 Century International Life Science Centre – the industry leader and manufacturer of high-quality stem cells and natural killer cells in Southeast Asia.

“Our focus lies in the discovery, research, development, and commercialisation of advanced cellular therapy to treat a myriad of diseases and we are proud to accelerate the growth of cellular therapy and immunotherapy treatments in Malaysia,” says its CEO Alex Wong.

In pursuit of providing regenerative medicine, Cellaax produces stem cells which are undifferentiated cells that can be “groomed” to be any type of cell given the right environment to grow. These cells can then help renew, repair, regenerate and restore bodily functions. Stem cells are found within our tissues such as the bone marrow, blood, fat, and cord tissue.

The company has established protocols that are proven to be effective, yielding desired outcomes and results for the use of Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC), Natural Killer Cells (NK)-Cells, which are a type of white blood cell) and MSC Secretome Therapy.

“We use natural killer cells to treat cancer which has been very positive”, says Dr Raj Navaratnam who also said NK cells are now showing great effectiveness as an alternative to chemo and radiotherapy in treating cancers.

NK cells are immune cells used by the body as first responders in the immune system. Their main role is to eliminate foreign invaders, pathogens, and infections (bacteria and viruses) that threaten the body and compromise the immune system. They also play a significant role in eliminating and controlling tumours by limiting their spread and growth. These “bodyguards” are essential in cancer detection by killing off abnormal cancer cells without harming the healthy cells.

Mesenchymal Stem Cells are used to treat chronic cancers and those that do not respond to any treatment known as refractory cancers. “Our patients of all ages and stages of cancer have been responding very well to this treatment”, says Raj.

Wharton’s jelly, a connective tissue located within the umbilical cord largely and composed of mesenchymal stem cells is superior in nature with high differentiative potential. According to Cellaax, these allogenic stem cells are well tolerated by patients in clinical trials with no reported adverse side effects. “Our umbilical cords are ethically sourced and screened prior to culture and use,” says Raj.

At Cellaax, each cord is tested for multiple diseases and infections (such as Zika Virus, Hepatitis, HIV, and STDs) as well as genetic defects (such as chronic diseases, autoimmune diseases, and cancer). Umbilical cord-derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells are also easy to collect as they are considered by-products from delivery (only umbilical cords from C-Section deliveries are retrieved to avoid contamination).

He also added that MSC Secretome Therapy is used for anti-inflammatory, tissue regeneration, anti-aging, and wellness.

Unlike MSC and NK Cells treatments, Secretomes do not contain live cells. Secretomes are by-products released by Mesenchymal Stem Cells with various beneficial biologically active molecules such as growth factors, chemokines, cytokines, and extracellular vesicles (EVs) such as microvesicles and exosomes. They play a major role in cell migration, signalling, and communication. This paracrine signalling helps to generate signals to the patients existing cells to stimulate regeneration and repair in damaged tissues.

Cellaax together with Cellmax Malaysia is currently developing Secretome Therapy for wound care. Comprehensive research comprising in-vitro and in-vivo clinical trials with several key hospitals in Malaysia has demonstrated significant improvement after the application of Cellmax. The non-synthetic medical therapy has been reported to help heal chronic wounds by expediting recovery.

“With our growing pipeline and leading technology, we aim to build a fully integrated company leveraging modern capacities to manufacture and deliver transformative human cellular therapy products of high industry standards to pivot us towards global success and as a preferred destination with expertise in human cell therapy treatments within the region,” revealed Wong of his ambition for Cellaax.

Top Left: Alex Wong (Founder & CEO CELLAAX); Top Right: Dr Tan Boon Cheong
Bottom Left: Angelina Tiah (Chief Scientist CELLAAX); Bottom Right: Professor Dato’ Dr Nor Shahidah

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