"Today one medical technology that does possess great promise but is not yet ready for prime time is stem cell therapy. Legitimate scientists involved in stem cell research are almost giddy about the possibilities. Early applications are possibly just around the corner,
and only time will tell what the full potential of this technology is. But right now there are no legitimate stem cell therapies outside of research protocols. It is therefore not surprising that the con artists of today are exploiting the tremendous hype of stem cells. The most direct exploitation are clinics that claim to have stem cell therapies today for terminal or debilitating diseases."
"Also be wary of amazing treatment claims that are peppered with the latest scientific buzz words but, but are either vague or seem out of place. Take the time to research such claims by checking to see what legitimate organizations have to say about it – before you invest time, hope, money, and your health in what could very well be a scam."
“People have heard about stem cells. They believe they can just inject stem cells and wave them around and get miraculous cures
,” said Dr. Jack Kessler, a stem cell specialist at Northwestern University. “But it’s going to be years before we have any kinds of cures for MS, Parkinson’s or diabetes.”
"Last month fetal stem cell injections into the brain of an Israeli boy caused a tumor in his brain.
“Patients, please beware,” Dr. John Gearhart, a stem cell scientist at the University of Pennsylvania who wasn’t involved in the boy’s care, told The Associated Press.
“Cells are not drugs. They can misbehave in so many different ways
. It just is going to take a good deal of time” to prove how best to pursue the potential therapy, Gearhart said."
" * first, please remember that the medical charlatan knows exactly how desperate and frightened you are
: that is precisely the reason he targets people with MS (or motor neurone disease, or any disorder which currently cannot be cured by conventional medicines). He depends on your desperation - and, frankly, also uses it as a basis for calculating his price
* second, remember these clinics are set up in Central America or China or wherever for a reason: because the regulatory systems would not allow them to function in Western Europe or the US. They are outside regulation. This doesn't just mean they avoid boring Health and Safety inspections and the minimum wage. It means that you can have no idea at all what is in the pink fluid in the syringe about to be injected into you. It could be coloured water (which at least would be safe). It could be cancer-forming embryonic stem cells. Tumour formation is not just a theoretical risk: the first case of a child, treated in Russia with embryonic cells and later developing tumours formed by the stem cells, has now been reported in the literature: others must surely follow.
* third, despite everything you might read on the internet, including accounts allegedly written by patients themselves
, remember that clinics like these have now been running for well over a decade. Over this time hundreds - thousands - of desperate patients will have handed over their 30,000 or more for their miracle cure. If, in all this experience, a single patient with motor neurone disease had been cured of their illness, or a single patient with definite and progressive MS had thrown away their wheelchair and run a three hour marathon, or even had an MRI scan that had returned to normal, be in no doubt that the medical journals would have been buzzing with red hot case reports, time and time again ever since this started
. They are not. There is not a single corroborated report of an MS 'cure'."
I understand your concern Andrew, but there are some other factors to be taken into account as well.
1) Your first article might be considered out of date, as it is dated 2008, and things are changing fast in this field.
2) As other posters have pointed out, the type of stem cell used needs to be considered. Here is a pretty good primer, also a little out of date: http://www.mstrust.org.uk/information/publications/factsheets/stem_cells.jsp
3) I would be just as wary of blanket condemnation of "foreign" clinics as I would blind faith in American or European ones. One reason: The US healthcare system ranks 37 in the world, according to WHO, and Costa Rica's ranks 36.
This is important because the stem cell treatments being discussed in this thread are mainly about the clinic in Costa Rica and an associated one in Panama. There are many reasons to think a patient might be able to trust a clinic such as this. One is that the American doctor, Dr Cheney, no quack or charlatan, is sending some of his patients to the CR clinic. He reports some of those results on his website. Cheney, if you didn't know, has been treating CFIDS for decades.
Another reason to be wary of what the Americans say is that there is blatent bias in favor of the nonsense that the US has the best medical care in the world...as CFIDS sufferers, we know it hasn't been that great. And many of the doctors in those "foreign" clinics trained in the US.
3) One reason the US is behind the rest of the world in stem cell research has been the religious politics surrounding it; this has just now been countered by Obama lifting the research bans put in place by the Bush agenda. One reason such research and treatment went elsewhere was that those who were working in that field had the rug pulled from beneath them when religious politics superceded science in the US.
4) I've seen that report about the Israeli boy who supposedly got brain cancer from a stem cell treatment, but I haven't seen anything to prove that the treatment is the reason he got cancer. When we apply the standard of proving a treatment works as it is said to, we also need to apply the same standard when a treatment seems to have had a negative outcome.
5) One of your article quotes: "Take the time to research such claims by checking to see what legitimate organizations have to say about it..."
I think that is exactly what we are doing here. These studies are mentioned in the above referenced link (all involve MS patients):
European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation
In 2002, the European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation carried out a comprehensive analysis of 85 patients who had received stem cell transplants for MS . Because this analysis looks at results from several different trials, the method for suppressing the immune system and infusing the stem cells was not the same for all 85 people.
The analysis showed that the transplantation of haematopoietic stem cells was a potentially useful treatment for some people with MS. Following treatment an anti-inflammatory effect was seen, as measured by MRI. However, the effect on stabilising symptoms and disease progression was less clear. It was also observed that in high-risk cases
such as the over-45s, those with a high disability score or people who had undergone a more intensive immunosuppressive treatment, the procedure was associated with a 5% risk of transplant-related mortality
The European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation is currently carrying out a phase III trial comparing autologous stem cell treatment to the immune suppressing drug mitoxantrone. This trial is called the ASTIMS (A
tem Cell T
) trial. The results of this trial are not expected until at least 2010-2011.
Italian Group for Bone Marrow Transplantation
Results of a phase II trial carried out by the Italian Group for Bone Marrow Transplantation were reported in December 2005 . This trial involved 21 participants with MS who were beginning to have difficulty walking (with a score in the range 5.0-6.5 on the EDSS scale, a standard measure of disability in MS), and were rapidly deteriorating. Participants received stem cells harvested from their own blood. Following treatment 20 people had stabilised or improved. The remaining participant also improved initially, but began to deteriorate nine months after the procedure. To date, participants have been followed up for 66 months
5) Some of the quotes in your linked articles have amusing statements about how expensive these foreign clinics are! Compared to what? Medical tourism got its start because of how expensive medical treatments of all kinds are in the US! If a stem cell treatment at the cost of $20,000 worked for someone like me, it would save the US government/SSA that amount in two years of disability payments, and I could once again pay taxes! Not to mention the value of an end to the decades of suffering and poverty and the reclaiming of what's left of my life. Also compare that cost with drug treatments, also unproven and with known side affects, that are costing upwards of $800/week.
So, I'm grateful that someone has the money and the guts to be the guinea pig/pioneer in trying out what may turn out to be the most valuable treatment for CFIDS/ME yet. And I'm grateful that those "foreign" clinics didn't let US politics stop them from advancing the science.
Thanks for joining the conversation, Andrew, and welcome to the forum. Do continue to post if/when you find other information on this topic, ok?