Reporter: Laura Sparkes
It sounds far-fetched & futuristic but it's now reality. A world first – We've all got it and most of us hate it but now our own worst enemy has become a healing agent
Dr Herbert says "fat is considered something bad you don't want it and you should get rid of it, so if you can get rid of it and make your leg better at the same time people see it as incredible."
It's the latest cutting edge treatment for Arthritis stem cells from fat used to regenerate and heal arthritic joints Macquarie university associate professor Dr Ben Herbert is the co-founder of Regeneus the company that developed this brand new HiQ Cell procedure
"You need about a cup of fat, you process that fat from maybe that cup full down to a teaspoon full of cells and then those cells are reintroduced injected into the damaged tendon r joint, it's very quick, you don't add anything, you don't subtract anything it's a straight forward procedure.
These cells are really if you like implantable drug factories they go into the joint and they receive these signals of pain and inflammation and they turn down that pain what they're saying to the tissue inside the joint is we can repair this damage."
Ben continues to explain while looking at microscopic cells "This is what fat looks like down the micrscope you can see here all these white dots are the stem cells."
And compared to other forms of stem cells that are hard to access fat is easy to get via liposuction and everyone has it
"Most people and researchers working on this are growing stem cells in a lab or a facility to then put them into people. This is different you can harvest and produce that population of cells and put it into the person in an hour and a half and that's the incredible part of it
With nearly 4 million sufferers in Australia…Arthritis is the major cause of disability and chronic pain …costing us 24 billion dollars each year in medical costs Les Waldron has spent thousands of dollars trying to get rid of the arthritic pain in his knee.
"When Im walking its always there. I can feel like a grinding thing bit more of where the bone is rubbing on bone and quite often when I walk on an uneven surface I notice my leg will just go from underneath me."
He's been holding off on having invasive surgery but knows a knee replacement is just around the corner that's why he's opted for this. Today he's becoming the 35th patient to undergo the procedure
Osteoarthritis sufferer Nigel Thomas is a success story…he says the results outweigh any initial pain felt in the liposuction procedure.
Rugby player John Clarkson is just 26 but already he was facing a future of pain and a knee reconstruction but 4 months since having the hiq cell procedure he's back to running pain free
"In one day of surgery, I walked in and walked out, it gave me mobility in my knee joint that could be life changing."
Les is just about to have his liposuction done now they always take the fat either from the stomach or the back because these are the places that yield the most amount of stem cells
Plastic surgeon Dr Miroshnik is involved in the harvesting of the fat…he explains it's a different technique to usual liposuction "We can't risk any contamination not even a single bacteria because those stem cells once extracted are going to be injected back into knees normally it would take a couple of minutes to harvest 200g of fat however with all the sterile preparation and the technique we use it takes an hour all up
So the liposuction has now finished this container has les' fat it's a quick trip up this corridor and straight into the lab
It takes an hour for the stem cells to be weeded out and made up into the regenerative potion.
Dr Donald Kuah is a specialist sports and exercise physician. He's already treated 17 patients. "It's really not for the end stage arthritis, not designed for the people where you're needing total hip or knee replacements next month, its for the middle aged 40s, 50 year olds who have some arthritis."
Two injections later Les is ready to leave the hospital full of hope. "It's a miracle that they've taken fat from my stomach, taken parts out of it and reinjected it into other parts to grow new parts. I'm hoping after the pain goes away my knee will recover and Il be back to my normal self."