Interview with Dr Dave Woynarowski

Posted Tue, Sep, 22,2015

This author interview is by Dr. Dave Woynarowski. Dr. Woynarowski's full paper, Stem Cells Targeting Inflammation as Potential Anti-Aging Strategies and Therapies, is available for download in Cell & Tissue Transplantation & Therapy.

Please summarize for readers the content of your article.

Our article "Stem Cells as Potential Anti-Aging Strategies" links the known associations with inflammatory biomarkers in aging with the anti-inflammatory effects of systemic and local mesenchymal stem cell injections. There is a robust body of literature documenting these as separate entities, but until now no one has advanced a plausible clinical mechanism for the rational use of MSCs as anti-aging therapies. We are continuing to accrue clinical data and will publish those data in the near future, but this review article summarizes the rationale behind our treatment as we move forward with documentation.

How did you come to be involved in this area of study?

I started my professional life as an Internist and practiced straight Internal Medicine for 15 years. During the latter half of my career, I became more interested in preventative strategies, as I felt I was not presenting patients with any alternatives to standard pharmaceutical and surgical therapies. There seemed to be an inevitable progression to what we now know are illnesses based on inflammation. However, there was no real way of intervening before the clinical decline required drugs and/or surgery. At the time, the most rational answer was to become certified in "Anti-Aging" and "Age Management" medicine, which I subsequently did. As a result of my experience in those fields, I developed successive expertise in nutrition with a focus on Omega 3 and fatty acid biology, ketogenic diets, hormone therapies, and finally telomeres and telomerase. The culmination of those studies resulted in my authorship of "The Immortality Edge" (Wiley and Sons 2010) - the first book for the general public and primary care physician on clinical aspects of telomeres and telomerase. These combined interests and achievements led to my desire to combine my knowledge of telomere biology, aging physiology and stem cells in a clinically relevant situation. There, I could test my hypotheses in an objective fashion, explore and expand the connections between these two separate, but interlinked, fields in real live patients instead of simply cell-based and animal models. I am extremely grateful for my collaboration with my co-author on this paper, Dr. Rafael Gonzalez, for giving me the opportunity to do just that!

What was previously known about the topic of your article?

Ironically, both a lot and next to nothing! Individual clinicians, including our co-author Dr. Geffner, who is a pioneer in the clinical use of stem cells, have significant and rather long experience with clinical stem cell use. But no one to our knowledge has gone beyond the empirical stage and published a rational approach to using stem cells as anti-aging therapy. The article itself lists many citations that elucidate the connection between aging and inflammation, but other than treating disease states we haven't seen a peer reviewed article on using MSCs to blunt that inflammation and mitigate at least the symptoms of aging that were previously considered "normal" for at least a period of time. Nor have we seen the suggestion and soon-to-be documentation of the decline of 3 widely accepted biomarkers of age-related inflammation that we describe in the paper with systemic MSC therapy. In essence our paper is an example of synthetic creativity. "A"- age related systemic inflammation + "B" the immunomodulatory effects of systemic MSCs = "C" clinically relevant declines in age-related biomarkers and symptomatic improvements thereof as at least one of the major uses for MSC therapy.

How has your work advanced the understanding of the topic?

Our work allows the clinician and patient alike to understand one of the major reasons why MSCs can and should be considered in this ever expanding field. It also contributes to management of expectations on both the part of the clinician and the patient. Our description of the immunomodulatory effects of MSCs and their actions via "homing" and chemokine and cytokine production will also allow us to direct more therapies based on these soon-to-become putative mechanisms. Finally, we believe this article will be a roadmap for our future work and will stimulate others to answer more questions about how stem cells act, how they age, and how they can affect the aging process in humans.

What do you regard as being the most important aspect of the results reported in the article?

There are 3 specific aspects we think this article will address. First, stem cell therapy is widely practiced but poorly understood, even by many who use it clinically. This combination has led to a significant amount of misinformation and the perception that stem cell therapy is of questionable validity. The understanding and use of accepted biomarkers allows the clinician to document repeatable and reportable changes in blood chemistry and correlate that with MSC treatments. This gives an objective rationale for the treatment, but also a useful gauge as to how effective or not those therapies are likely to be. In turn this allows for modification and tailoring of future treatments. Next, it allows the scientific community to understand what we are looking to achieve and that there is a rational not mythical reason to use these therapies. And finally, as a result of the above, we have many more interesting and exciting questions we can and are asking as a basis for publishing our current data and exploring future studies. We hope and expect others in the scientific community will ask additional questions and consider future collaborations and information sharing with us as a result.

Web page referral for more information on our work

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