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Friday, May 26 2017 @ 09:08 AM EDT

A Wonderful Article on Treatments Using Adult Stem Cells

Healthcare By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Recently I've been trying to learn more about the use of adult stem cells to treat diseases currently considered to be incurable in the Republic of Panama. A few weeks ago health authorities in Costa Rica shut down a clinic that was offering these "treatments" and the same company has an operation here in Panama. The use of adult stem cells to treat anything remains highly controversial - primarily among scientists and doctors who argue among themselves as to whether or not it works - and that controversy spills into Panama with the presence of this company. Hundreds if not thousands of people are paying millions if not billions of dollars every year to travel to places like Panama, Bangkok, and the Dominican Republic to get "treatments" that no other doctor in the world would dare perform. The obvious question is - Do these treatments work or is this quack medicine and are these people being ripped off?

Please Read This Article: Someone posted a link to the following article this morning, which is thus far the most fair and balanced approach I've seen yet: Stem-Cell Tourism: Adventures at the Fringes of Experimental Medicine. I'm still learning more about this and of course there is no "right answer" as the science continues to advance and the technology leads to new discoveries. On a personal note - scam artists simply piss me off. Most of this article is dedicated to one doctor who is performing these procedures in the Dominican Republic. However I'm drawn to the various paragraphs from the other side of the story, which say:

  • "The FDA thinks all stem-cell procedures should undergo clinical trials for safety and efficacy before companies begin selling them as therapies. Its formal review process, the agency maintains, is the only way to protect patients from treatments that are ineffective or downright dangerous."

  • "But even as glowing testimonials multiply on Regenocyte’s Web site, scientists in high places have slammed the company’s entire approach to medicine. Neurobiologist and stem-cell innovator Hans Keirstead of the University of California at Irvine calls commercial stem-cell clinics like Regenocyte “deplorable.” “It’s absolutely terrible. They’re taking advantage of people’s need,” he says. And last year, Irving Weissman, head of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), bashed Regenocyte on CNN. “There is no such cell as a regenocyte,” he told a reporter. (Grekos admits as much, explaining that “regenocyte” is not a technical classification but a marketing term his company developed.) “I am disappointed and shocked that somebody would prey on a family that has an untreatable disease,” Weissman said. When presented with the Thai trial in which patients’ ejection fraction improved by approximately 20 percent, Weissman withheld comment on the grounds that the ISSCR has not had a chance to review the paper, but he points out that no regulatory body oversaw the study."

  • "Robert Lanza, the chief scientific officer of U.S. cell-therapy firm Advanced Cell Technology, is equally skeptical of the scientific strength of the Thai trial. “This was a safety—Phase I—trial, so the results don’t really tell us much about the potential efficacy of the cells,” he says."

  • “There may have been some improvement. However, it’s impossible to reach any conclusion, since the study wasn’t randomized and there was no control group. The study was further compromised by the fact that the cardiologists evaluating the patients were not ‘blinded.’ The slight improvements reported in this paper could easily be the result of a placebo effect.”

  • "Reading further, Grekos was impressed. In the U.S., autologous-stem-cell treatments other than bone-marrow transplants are only in early-stage clinical trials, and there’s still no definitive proof that they work. Embryonic stem cells, which are thought to be more versatile than adult stem cells because they can give rise to any tissue type in the body, are even less proven. The only embryonic-stem-cell trial announced in the U.S. to date, by the California company Geron, and designed to assess the cells’ therapeutic potential in acute spinal-cord-injury patients, has been repeatedly postponed partly because of regulators’ concerns about the safety of the cells."

Warning - Proceed At Your Own Risk: Who the hell am I to judge? The patients in the article are fully grown adults who are going into these procedures fully informed as to the risks, and the possibility that they just might be throwing their money away. However, what if you have the money and are dying of an incurable disease anyway? What good is the money going to do if you're dead? That's the choice these people are facing. So, is it quackery or cutting edge science? "Galileo, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible for the birth of modern science." He was also tried by the Inquisition, forced to recant his scientific publications, convicted as a heretic, and sentenced to house arrest for the remainder of this life. I only hope the desperate people who are faced with these life and death decisions with regards to adult stem cell "treatments" and "therapies" do so with their eyes wide open, fully informed, and prepared to live with the consequences of their decisions, whatever they may be. These "treatments" are happening here in Panama so it's a relevant topic of discussion for this website. More to come, still working...

Copyright 2010 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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