FACES OF MELBOURNE 2019: Influential Captains & Upcoming Leaders
• Mazita Marzuki • Jason Yeap, OAM • Susan Alberti, AC • Rupert Myer, AO • Professor Kathryn North, AM • Nicole Chow • Chef Jeffrey Tan, OAM • Penny Sun • Dr Giovanni Butera • Ken Ong, OAM • Luke Stambolis • Josh Chye • Toni El-Helou • David Chandler • Carolyn Masson • Dr Nicole Yap • Ven Chin • David Liao • Alex HK Lim
Founding Principal – Director of Rothelowman Architects
Rothelowman Architects 创始人 – 董事
After working briefly in Hong Kong, Rothelowman Architects’ founding principal and Director, Kim Lowman returned to Australia in 1991 to conquer Australia’s architecture world. With over 155 employees across offices in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney as well as international clients from China; Rothelowman Architects is a prominent name that has often been referred to as a paragon of the Australian architecture industry.
Kim believes that the secrets to Rothelowman’s success is a clear business development strategy, flexibility and employing talented and trustworthy employees.
“Our edge comes from the fact that we have repeat clients, a state-of-the-art design process, a thorough understanding of the factors that impact the wider property industry, a willingness to innovate design solutions and a commitment to staff and research”, said Mr Lowman.
As architectural and design studios generally require a suite of compatible skills across all aspects of a project’s delivery, Mr Lowman stresses the importance of impeccable communication skills and nurturing learning environment that is embedded into Rothelowman’s graduate programme.
With a diverse range of projects varying from $5 million to $600 million AUD and a fully integrated design studio led by international designer Matthew Dalby; Rothelowman is fully equipped to maintain an exemplary standard of quality for every project.
“We strongly encourage clients to discuss a site prior to acquisition. It’s generally a partnership approach that converts feasibilities into realities. The notion of an inspirational idea responding to a site that is viable, responsible, and timeless excites us.”
When asked about the challenges Rothelowman faces, Mr Lowman said,” Embracing change is everyone’s challenge. As economic conditions change we make it our business to explore new building typologies to suit a market”.
Mr Lowman strongly emphasised the importance of working with all stakeholders towards achieving a satisfactory outcome for each party and praised the merits of institutions that reward innovation.
“We strongly encourage clients to discuss a site prior to acquisition. It’s generally a partnership approach that converts feasibilities into realities. The notion of an inspirational idea responding to a site that is viable, responsible, and timeless excites us,” said Mr Lowman.
Despite it not being a large project, Rothelowman is most proud of their award-winning work on the “Pillar of Hawthorn” – a respectful interpretation of the rich heritage and timeless nobility that defines Hawthorn. Sandwiched between a heritage church and sensitive interfaces with neighbouring residents; this project resolves all constraints with clarity and lifts the experiences of neighbours, pedestrians and future inhabitants of Hawthorn.
Mr Lowman is excited about the future and believes the best part of his career lies in a journey of constant learning, joy and passion for one’s craft.
尽管并非大型项目，Rothelowman最自豪的是他们的获奖作品“Pillar of Hawthorn”，尊重且诠释了丰富的文化古迹和永恒的高贵，定义了项目的成功。而即使夹在传统教堂与邻近居民，该项目成功地和周围环境和谐地融合为一体，提升了Hawthorn区所有邻居、行人和未来居住者的体验感受。
Despite it not being a large project, Kim is proud of one of their award-winning works “Pillar of Hawthorn” – a respectful interpretation of the rich heritage and timeless nobility that define Hawthorn. Ardently adamant and meticulous in design, the penthouses of Pillar provide a warm array of designs that fully maximise the ability of natural light to complement its apartment’s features.
A complex projection on many levels, the height and proportions compliment the contours of the street podium to allow inhabitants to enjoy spectacular views towards the city over its heritage roofs. The eastern laneway is activated by careful consideration which addresses this intimate frontage. Landscape and pavement improvements, further lift the pedestrian experience, continuing Melbourne’s fascination with laneways.
Inside the Pillar awaits generous, luxurious living spaces one would be proud to call home. This project, by Miura Group, certainly has considered the well being of its residents and will create a development which has the community in mind.
Ping Chng 庄雪冰 CEO of CHTNetwork Australia CHTNetwork 澳大利亚首席执行官
Recently calling Melbourne home, Ping Chng first arrived here in 1997 to study law in Monash University. Falling in love with Melbourne at first sight, she enjoyed her Australian university life but went back to Malaysia to build her legal career.
“Everything starts from the first step.”
Her first six years were spent in litigation before moving on to corporate law and eventually settling in conveyancing. With 20 years of law practice in Malaysia, she is still attending to Malaysian clients in the areas of conveyancing and corporate law.
January 2018 marked her milestone move to Melbourne. Malaysia’s loss is Australia’s gain. With a heavy heart Ping left behind family, friends and a successful career in Malaysia to embark upon her new journey in life. Equipped with top class legal expertise and a wealth of experience and wisdom, it wasn’t long before she was admitted as a lawyer in the state of Victoria. “Everything starts from the first step. This new chapter of my life is not going to be easy, but my mind is set, and I’m determined to make this crucial journey a successful one.”
Putting her legal career on the back burner and re-inventing herself, Ping added dimension and diversity to her portfolio. Diving into the world of publishing, this multi-talented individual took up the position of chief executive officer with CHTNetwork, a publishing company set up by her brother Ch’ng Huck Theng in Melbourne, Victoria. Championing and celebrating the good things in life, Ping is now heading EZ Australia magazine with extensive online and hardcopy subscriptions. She is also managing the CHTNetwork office, promoting the company’s art gallery and art/event space in Collins Street. Running CHTNetwork, producing the EZ Australia magazines and immersing herself in the art industry and the lifestyles of the rich and famous, the worthy and the artistic, has propelled Ping into the upper echelons of Melbourne high society. Modestly she claims that, “Every day is a learning process for me.”
“Always let go of the past and live in the now.”
In retrospect the move did not come without challenges. Juggling between her business, social duties and family life in a new country can be trying and demanding, at best. Always a trooper, Ping remains optimistic and persistent in achieving her goals. Born into a family which has been in the food manufacturing and retail business for 165 years, she has always believed in credibility, being fair and genuine in life. Her stronghold on values have won her many acquaintances, school mates and clients who have evolved to become good friends and business partners even.
One will always know where one stands with Ping as she is honest to a fault, principled and shares her views and comments sincerely. Commanding respect and admiration, she has always strived for the best in all her endeavours. A compassionate and loving personality, she firmly believes in friends and family, and is extremely grateful for all their support and love. “Always let go of the past and live in the now.”
Ping also holds a fascination in property investment. Coupled with her legal background and a keen eye for interior design, Ping has displayed quite a good track record in property investment for the last 10 years. One of her goals in this new chapter of her life is to become a successful property developer in the beautiful and bountiful land down under.
When Penny Sun looked to her Pillar development project in the prestigious Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn, she was moved by the beautiful heritage listed church that was to become the property’s neighbour. Where some developers might have placed a fence, Penny saw an opportunity to embrace the presence of the church quite literally. She and her team at Miura Group worked with the architects to design a colonnaded, curved structure that would open the length of Pillar to the church, gently curving around the building. It was not necessarily the most cost effective design option, but it epitomises her development philosophy, one that respects the development’s context and looks to complement and involve itself with its surrounds.
This sense of purpose, integrity and respect is in Penny’s DNA. Her mother is of Manchu descent, a Chinese ethnic minority famed for horsemanship and archery skills in both men and women.
China is well known for its preference of sons, but Penny’s family raised her and her sister to be strong and independent, giving them every opportunity men in the culture would receive.
Her parents would even refer to Penny and her younger sister as “first son” and “second son”! This upbringing has been a major factor in her career journey and the success she has enjoyed.
She arrived in Australia as a student and completed three master’s degrees, in finance, accounting and management. After graduating, she entered corporate life and worked her way up through the listed company she joined, before deciding to take more control of her destiny and moved on to property development.
The world of property development is dominated by men, but Penny has brought the strength of her upbringing to bear and has shown remarkable progress in breaking down the gender divide associated with the industry. A no nonsense, “firm but fair” way of working has seen her deliver a range of projects, including a luxury beach house, a chic, 15 apartment development in Brunswick and now the aforementioned Pillar apartment development in Hawthorn.
A major inspiration in Penny’s life was her grandfather, a kung fu master. His own “firm but fair” style is characterised by a philosophy of stepping in and responding to help others, but never being an aggressor. Penny has modelled her own behaviours on this, and though she is known for being strong-minded, direct and opinionated, she’s also known for being uncompromisingly honest and dependable.
Penny’s success is steeped in laserlike focus on quality. It’s clear that hers is no cookiecutter approach to building homes. It’s bespoke, purpose led development, created by teams of designers and craftspeople that have responded to Penny’s ethos and direction.
It’s not hard to see that Penny applies her experience when working with her teams. She sees the strengths and weaknesses in the team and sets them up so they complement each other. She really knows how to bring out the best in people. This approach has gained her respect in the industry, as well as results in the market.
It’s fair to say that there’s a strong sense of collaboration in how she works, forming the right team for each project and charging them with the responsibility for delivering high quality work. This is underpinned by a great ability to read the situation and the people involved. This ability itself seems related to some of her earliest experiences in China. Her family owned a timber business there and Penny learned from early on to recognise what quality meant. She visited plantations with her parents and came to know the different varieties of trees.
Her parents would expect her to know whether it was a hardwood or a softwood, and understand the best uses for each type. She learned to examine trees and see beneath the surface, understanding its value and appreciating its natural variety. Every tree contains its own imperfections, but if you know the timber well, you know how to work with those imperfections and get the best results from it.
That intimate knowledge of timber has also become a major characteristic of her design aesthetic. If there’s an opportunity to bring the natural world to the design through the use of materials like timber, she takes them. This appreciation of natural materials has become a hallmark of her developments.
Penny’s balanced approach to development is informed by her balanced approach to life. Her deep affinity with nature grew with her exposure to plantations and forests, and now through a range of outdoor activities, meditation and yoga, she cuts through the noise that life as a busy citybased property developer can bring. This allows her to crystallize innovative, inspiring solutions to the design problems she meets.
Penny is clearly not an average person. Focus, hard work and a love of meeting challenges head on sets her apart. It’s become apparent very quickly that the work of this exceptional young women is going to turn heads throughout the industry. More importantly, the quality of her projects will deliver incredible living experiences for those lucky enough to take possession of one of her homes. It’s worth keeping your eye out for her name and if you can, make one of her developments your home.
One of the richest men in Australia, Michael Buxton is ranked on the Financial Review Rich List of 2017. Sixth generation developer and Executive Director of MAB Corporation, this good-natured personality is the tour de force behind Melbourne’s most established property conglomerate.
Creating beautiful cities in Victoria, MAB Corporation is involved in residential, retail, industrial and commercial developments, as well as fund management. NewQuay, Docklands and University Hill in Bundoora are some of MAB’s winning projects. In a joint venture with Gibson Property Corporation, MAB has just embarked upon its largest and most visionary development – Merrifield, a new city for Melbourne comprising more than 900 hectares located on the Hume Highway in Mickleham.
The artists’ passion, intelligence and creativity enrich and make us more knowledgeable, and our lives more beautiful and meaningful.
Making nationwide headlines Buxton recently donated his private contemporary Australian art collection worth $26 million to the University of Melbourne.Inspired by legacies, not just acquisitions, he says, “Twenty-three years ago, I had a dream to develop a major, forward-thinking private collection that would demonstrate excellence in contemporary Australian art. To have Buxton Contemporary Museum designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects and located at the University of Melbourne’s Southbank campus, alongside the Victorian College of the Arts, amid such a major arts precinct, is better than what I hoped for.”
Melbourne is a very safe place to do business. There are good governance, healthy work force and well-planned cities.
That’s not the only collection this art connoisseur has amassed.“I have three collections – one in Australia, another in America and a South East Asian collection in Sicily.I just bought a 17th century hotel in Sicily and plan to transform the interior into a contemporary space featuring the best 26 artists from 26 different countries, in each suite.” Buxton recently redesigned his holiday home in Portsea. “We took out the tennis court to incorporate a Moroccan garden and a sculpture park featuring the works of David Mitchard, Callum Morton, Francis Upritchard and Jamie North.”
With an emphasis on the intrinsic values of life, Buxton describes himself as “a person who loves life”. He plays sports, golf, swim, surf, fish, scuba dive and has sailed around the world in his yacht Black Pearl. “We have worked very hard and become successful, but wealth is not that important to us.We use our wealth very well to do good things so that we can leave some great things for the world.”
身为澳大利亚最富有的人之一，Michael Buxton 在 2017 年的《金融评论》富豪榜上名列前茅。这名性格温润的第六代房产开发商和 MAB Corporation 的执行董事，也是墨尔本成熟房地产集团背后的强大力量。
Sidney Baillieu Myer, AC
Co-Founder and Past President of The Myer Foundation
“Why are you interested to interview a retired old man?” was the question posed before I even got a chance to introduce myself and EZ Australia. First impression of Sidney Baillieu (Bails) Myer AC was that although at 91 years of age, he is still very sharp and alert with a very strong voice. The interview with EZ Australia was conducted in Bail’s beautiful house in Toorak. The residence was immensely decorated with carefully selected antique furniture and Chinese works of arts together with Aboriginal artifacts displayed on walls and tables overlooking a charming garden. Tea and slices of ginger cakes were served while wife Sarah sat quietly next to the man she married for 60 odd years ago.
The Myer family have very deep roots in the hearts of Australians especially with the iconic brand Myer, Australia’s largest department stall, the numerous charity works that this family has contributed throughout the years to the society of Australia and also their support towards Australian and Asian arts.
Bails was born in San Francisco, California on 11 January 1926 of Russian parentage which later the family moved to the great land down under. He was filled with pride while talking about his father and when asked about the Myer shopping center, Bails explained that his father wanted customers to receive friendly services and valuable experiences when they visited the store during the early days it first started in Bendigo. When asked how difficult it was to maintain the business after the passing of his father in 1934.
“Ken and I took over the business, worked hard and finally took the business nationwide. I was the last to retire in 1996. ” said Bails without hesitation.
Besides the shopping business industry, Bails has also ventured into the farming and winery business activities include a Santa Gertrudis cattle stud, a Quarterhorse stud at Yulgilbar in Northern New South Wales, and wine making at Elgee Park on the Mornington Peninsula.
On the other hand, Bails is also very into art and antique.
“I think this love and passion is in my DNA especially growing up with a major Chinese collection that my father bought in San Francisco, later brought it all the way to Australia and the collection is still with us since 1932” Bails answered with a smile when asked why.
In his art journey, Bails has provided extensive leadership in the Australian art world through organizations such as National Gallery of Victoria and has put together important art collections that some have been donated to public institutions. Bail and Sarah have been long term art collectors who are highly respected in their field. Some of the significant focus collections are contemporary Australian art from the 1980s, Aboriginal art from the 1990s, sculptures from 2000s and two collections of Japanese art namely the medieval period Negaro Lacquer works and the Japanese baskets.
Bails was indeed very proud when the conversation turned towards family. He first met Sarah in a family party then again in London, got engaged in 1955 and married three months later. Bails jokingly said, “… the first 60 years were tough and the last 2 years were very good” when asked about his marriage. However he continued with confidence claiming that Sarah would say ‘Yes’ if he proposes again and he will definitely marry her and only her. He said that it was a blessed and very happy marriage made possible through laughter, sense of humour and shared interests. Today, Bails is a father of 3 and a grandfather to 12 amazing grandchildren.
Sarah was there with all smiles when Bails was telling his love story. She added that Bails was a very energetic guy who is interested in a lot of things including wine, country, politics,… and he is very flexible. Asked why did she say ‘Yes’ to Bails 62 years ago, her answer was “It seemed like a good idea then and we had a lot of fun through the years”. Switzerland was the place they spent their honeymoon and it is still their popular and regular destination.
It was a true honour for EZ to have the opportunity to interview this great man and his wife but this article alone touches only on a very small part of the life of Baillieu Myer AC. One should get hold of a copy of Bails recent memoir ‘IN Full Stride – The Life And Times Of Baillieu (Bails) Myer’ that was recently launched.
For some people, luxury is a way of life rather than an occasional indulgence. Only those residences, cars, wines, watches, jewels and gadgets that live up to the highest standards of quality and style can ever win their approval. These are the people for whom EZ Australia was created. EZ Australia is the essential lifestyle companion to Australia’s ultra-discerning society.
The cover stories of EZ AUSTRALIA feature prominent personalities to give our readers an insight into what makes these giants of the industries the leaders that they are today. We create a benchmark in presenting an in-depth focus on the big names in the industries and team it with the latest information from around the world on what is pertinent to Australians. We offer nothing short of the best in information, news and features. To serve the growing community of Chinese readers in Australia better, each issue of EZ AUSTRALIA will be published in English & Mandarin languages.
Winter Wonderland As one of the Central Switzerland’s hidden gems, the Swiss Alpine village of Engelberg and the Mount Titlis glacier is a convenient excursion from the major cities of Zurich and Lucerne. Engelberg – meaning the “mountain of angels”, is originally founded by a Benedictine monk. This area is now a famous winter wonderland filled with many attractions and memorable experiences.
Mt. Titlis & Cable Car Mount Titlis is the highest peak in central Switzerland, reaching 3,239 meters above sea level. It has the finest views for visitors—not only an amazing panoramic view of the Alpine peaks, but other fascinating attractions as well. Don’t miss out on the Titlis Rotair gondola—the world’s first rotating cable car. The fully revolving gondola transports passengers conveniently to the summit in a five-minute ascent, offering stunning views of sheer rock faces and glacier crevasses of the Alpine peaks.
Titlis Cliff Walk & Glacier Cave Titlis cliff walk—Europes’ highest elevation suspension bridge is simply a must-do. It is situated on the Titlis glacier in the Engelberg region at 3,041 metres, and makes a 500-metre drop. It takes a 150 heart-pounding steps to traverse. On clear days, visitors can see all the way to Italy, including the Uri Alps and some of the distant glaciers. However, it is the experience of crossing the Titlis Cliff Walk that will take your breath away.
At the frosty heart of the Titlis glacier, a magical world awaits. The Glacier Cave in Mount Titlis is 20 metres below the glacier’s surface. The natural blue colour, due to the light’s refraction, illuminates the 150-metre-long walkway of frozen ice. The temperature inside the cave is regulated at frosty -1.5˚C. Exploring the glacier cave is an amazing experience.
A city tour in Lucerne takes visitors on a journey of contrast between the old and the new. The impressive contemporary building KKL (Culture and Congress Centre) in particular, stands proud within the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s old town.
The old town of Lucerne is located on the left bank of the River Reuss. It is connected to the right bank by two century-old landmark bridges: Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) and Spreuer Bridge (Spreuerbrücke). Promenading through the old town which is surrounded by medieval walls and watchtowers is amazing. Several houses are decorated with façade paintings that date back to the 19th and early 20th centuries. The world-famous Lion’s Monument which was built to commemorate the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution is certainly a place not to be missed.
The Swan Square (Schwanenplatz) is adjacent to Lake Lucerne. It is a picturesque place to stroll around. There are countless shops here, including branded jewellery and watch stores such as Bucherer and Gübelin. It is a promising starting point for a visit to the old town area.
MS Saphir – Pure Yachting Sensation Have you ever dreamt of touring the magnificent bays of Lake Lucerne in the elegant ambience of an exclusive yacht?
Refresh your senses and take in the first class comfort of a cutting-edge ship – the MS Saphir. The stylish design and dashing appearance of the elegant yacht is sure to impress.
Settle down into the spacious seating areas and savour the glorious view of the lake, the town and the mountains. Ingenious technical features of the convertible roof on the upper deck can be opened and closed according to the weather. The crew of the Saphir await you with an audio guide in 11 languages to tell you all about the top attractions of the Bay of Lucerne.
Treat yourself to affordable luxury aboard the MS Saphir. This 60 beautiful minutes’ yacht tour is sure to make you fall in love with Lucerne.
The House of Gübelin – Swiss Spirit The House of Gübelin is a Swiss, family-owned firm known for its exquisite high-end jewellery, gemstone expertise, and as purveyors of some of today’s most sought-after luxury watch brands.
The company, founded in 1854, is deeply inspired by the internal and external beauty of fine gems and watches. Whether as jeweller, gemmologist or horologist, Gübelin unites love for beauty with passion for knowledge.
The stunning creations from Gübelin Jewellery are inspired by the fascinating world of coloured gemstones. Gübelin serves its international clientele in its elegant boutiques in prime locations in Switzerland and in private salons in Hong Kong, where customers feel right at home.
The Grand Hotel National – Legendary Hotel This 150-year-old legendary establishment sits on the picturesque site of Lake Lucerne promenade with breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains. It is situated in the heart of both Switzerland and Lucerne, and connected to an excellent transportation network. The train station and the old town are both just five minutes away by foot.
The architecture of the residence calls to mind the French châteaux of the 17th and 18th centuries and the palaces of the Italian Renaissance. 41 luxurious rooms are furnished in Empire style with a splendid combination of contemporary designs and urban flair.
The hotel offers a comprehensive dining experience and environment, where only the highest quality culinary delicacies are served. The Restaurant National is where comfort food meets culinary sophistication. The head chef charms diners with creativity, extraordinary culinary art and a love for top-quality regional products. Popular meals and simple snacks are also available. It’s undoubtedly a place for everyone, straightforward yet elegant.
传奇酒店 拥有150年历史的传奇酒店The Grand Hotel National 位于卢塞恩市中心，紧邻风景如画的卢塞恩湖，距离火车站和旧城区仅有5分钟的脚程。
In 2006, researchers Dr Sue Shepherd & Professor Peter Gibson from Monash Uni, linked several highly fermentable but poorly absorbed short chain carbohydrates and polyols to symptoms associated with IBS, including wind & diarrhoea, as well as to the increased intestinal permeability associated with Crohn’s disease.
These fermentable aligo-di-and monosaccharides and polyols are now known collectively as FODMAPs. They comprise oligosaccharides (fructans and galactans), disaccharides (lactose), monosaccharides (fructose) and polyols, which is the technical word for sweetener. In the 2006 study, 74 per cent of patients with IBS and fructose/fructan diet such as the FODMAP diet.
HOW DOES THE LOW-FODMAP DIET WORK?
Research shows that FODMAPS in meals are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and increase the delivery of water to the colon-suggesting the catalyst for diarrhoea in some people. Breath test show that eating a low-FODMAP diet reduces hydrogen production (in both healthy volunteers and patients with IBS), linking the short chain carbohydrates with bloating, abdominal distension and pain and excessive flatulence.
Since the first study, research has consistently tied global restriction of FODMAPs (rather than restriction of individual components) with reduced symptoms of IBS. In a challenge trial (in which participants restricted fructose/fructans-containing foods and then restored the foods to the diet) showed a return of symptoms after the foods were reintroduced.
In those with Crohn’s disease, sweeteners such as sorbitol, maltitol and isomalt are absorbed, but the digestibility of the other nutrients in the foods is reduced because these polyols cause an osmotic load, meaning that more water remains in the intestine, leading to watery stool.
FODMAP group had reduced bloating, 87 per cent enjoyed less flatulence and 85 per cent experience a reduction in abdominal pain.
The researchers concluded that the low-FODMAP diet is more effective than standard dietary guidelines for symptom control of IBS.
FODMAPS AFFECT HEALTHY PEOPLE TOO
It’s interesting to note the research has also uncovered information about how FODMAPS are digested by healthy participants. We know, for example, that fructans (polymers of fructose found in asparagus, leeks, garlic, onions and onions and wheat) and galacto-oligosaccharides (lactose from cows milk) are always fermented by intestinal flora, and cause wind production and flatulence in healthy people too. The effects are merely worsened in those with hypersensitivity and motility disorders as found in IBS.
READY TO TRY IT
The low FOD-MAP diet eliminates sugars that can’t be fully digested and absorbed in the small intestine. When following this diet, journal ling is critical. Be sure to keep accurate records of what you eat, when and how your body responds.
After following the diet until all of your symptoms have disappeared, the goal is to reintroduce foods to determine whether they are a trigger for your symptoms. When doing so, add one food back at a time and wait 72 hours to determine that symptoms haven’t re-appeared before moving on to the next food.
FODMAP DIETThis way of eating is not as restrictive as some other prescription diets, but if you are interested in following it, you are wise to get nutritional guidance from an expert so you are sure to get all of your health-supportive nutrients. You may have to use vitamin and mineral supplementation to be sure to meet nutrient requirements, particularly in the elimination and re-challenge phases.
Dr Mecherl Lim
An Intuitive Medical Practitioner in Alternative Medicine (MD) (MA), Naturopath (ND), Holistic Kinesiology (HK), and Functional Medicine (FM)
Many issues ago I did very briefly mentioned about stem cell treatment in orthopaedics, but only in a few sentences. Stem Cell Therapy has gained increasing popularity in orthopaedic treatment especially in knee osteoarthritis in the last few years. Stem cells are not only used for articular cartilage regeneration, but also used for osteonecrosis, fracture healing, osteochondral defects and tendinopathies.
The two most common sources of adult stem cells for clinical application in orthopaedics are the bone marrow and adipose tissue. Bone marrow aspirate is first harvested and centrifuged, Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate (BMAC) which contains Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) will then be produced. When lipoaspirate has been treated by enzymes and has undergone differential centrifugation, a layer of Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF) which contains MSCs will be obtained. With the advancement of technology today, industry players have managed to obtain better stem cell count with each centrifugation; Thus, making the cultivation of stem cells easier and faster.
Although stem cells have been widely used in orthopaedic treatment, stem cell usage in knee osteoarthritis has interested patients more than others. With recent advancement, more research articles have been able to show the regeneration of articular cartilage in knee osteoarthritis with stem cell treatment. Even though most of these studies were small-scaled, but they have shown promising results.
Stem cell application in knee osteoarthritis can be in two ways. The first will involve a minor operation through arthroscopy of the knee. During the arthroscopy procedure, the cartilage defect on the joint surface will be identified and prepared. The stem cells will then be used to fill up the defect (implantation). The second method which is much simpler is direct intra-articular injection into the knee joint. This usually goes together with hyaluronic acid (gel).
Having said about the use of stem cells in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis, not every patient with knee osteoarthritis is suitable to be treated with stem cell as the patient must be well selected. Knees with severe osteoarthritis should not have Stem Cell Therapy performed on them as this will result in poor outcomes, for them knee replacement surgery is their only option. Do bear in mind, Stem Cell Therapy in knee osteoarthritis is not permanent. Several studies have shown that the effects only last a range of 2 to 5 years.
One major drawback of stem cells being widely used in knee osteoarthritis is the cost. The cost of stem cell treatment can range from RM12000 to RM 20000 (USD 3000 to 5000) per knee per treatment. Moreover, this cost will not be covered by medical insurance.
I believe that the usage of stem cells in knee osteoarthritis treatment in the years to come as more studies are conducted will be able to provide us with better evidence on the outcomes of Stem Cell Therapy. Therefore, before one decides to have this treatment, it would be great to first have a consultation with an orthopaedic surgeon as every patient differs.