Stem cell therapy is a controversial treatment for people with MS. We have heard the political and medical reasons why it should and shouldn’t be explored. According to Wikipedia’s definition of stem cell therapy it is:
...an intervention strategy that introduces new adult stem cells into damaged tissue in order to treat disease or injury. Many medical researchers believe that stem-cell treatments have the potential to change the face of human disease and alleviate suffering. The ability of stem cells to self-renew and give rise to subsequent generations with variable degrees of differentiation capacities, offers significant potential for generation of tissues that can potentially replace diseased and damaged areas in the body, with minimal risk of rejection and side effects.
There is further controversy over the use of embryonic stem cells that use human stem cells. This heated argument is mainly based on differences of philosophy and religion.
The Stem Cell Educator is a device used to help re-educate the “behavior” of human stem cells and reportedly helps to alleviate certain autoimmune diseases. According to Wikipedia it has the “potential to provide effective treatments for other autoimmune disorders.” Speaking about Type-1 Diabetes, Dr. Luca Inverardi of The University of Miami School of Medicine explained that he is cautious about the treatment yet states, "It's quite remarkable that this approach, based on the re-education of immune cells, might work so well. The concept is very intriguing, and the treatment seems to be so simple and so safe."
Although President Obama overturned President George Bush’s ruling on prohibiting federal funding for human stem cell research, instead of the easing of restrictions engendering more confidence for biotech and pharmaceutical companies to continue research into human stem cell therapy, a tougher regulatory climate and difficult legal challenges has kept them all “on the sidelines.” However, according to an article in Science Business, “there has been progress, particularly at the research end of the development spectrum. Three and a half years on stem cells are no longer high on the political agenda as they once were. This speaks to the generally positive public acceptance of stem cell research in the US.”
Cecelia Johnson knows the importance of stem cell therapy. (Bloomberg Business Week (Technology): Stem Cell Showdown: Celltex vs. The FDA (January 3, 2013)) After being diagnosed with MS and looking for something that would reverse her downward spiral of symptoms, she turned to the expensive prospect of stem cell therapy. She had given up on conventional medicine, headed to Mexico, forked out $14,000 of her own money and received the stem cell therapy that finally helped her feel better. Then the FDA arrested the man who was offering the treatment for conspiracy and fraud. So she went home to Houston where she found another doctor who could give her the same therapy for $30,000. After raising the money she needed, she headed for treatment from a doctor who himself used it for chronic back problems. Then the FDA got involved and shut down the practice due to 14 manufacturing problems.
There may even be some recent scientific evidence that proves stem cells could be useful for MS patients.
My Question of the Week is: What are you thoughts about stem cell therapy? Have you had the therapy yourself and, if so, what was your experience? Share your thoughts, stories and opinions here so we may learn from each other.
Cathy Chester is the author of the blog An Empowered Spirit for people age 50+ who want to live a vibrant and healthy life.
Published On: January 14, 2013