THIS article is full of so many holes, inconsistencies, half truths, biases and misinformation that it is difficult to even critique it. My comments in blue…
The author does not make any differentiation between adult/repair stem cells (RSC) and embryonic stem cells (ESC). Why? Since he neglected to do this, here are the simple differences between adult/repair stem cells and embryonic stem cells:
RSC = Repair Stem Cells (same as ASC/adult stem cell but a more appropriate name)
•used in bone marrow transplants for 40 years
•can currently treat 100+ diseases
•~zero problems (virtually zero side effects)
•comes from blood, umbilical cords, marrow, fat, nose, breast milk, menstruation, etc etc etc
ESC = embryonic stem cell
•can currently treat zero diseases
•lotsa problems (tumors, rejection, controversy, etc)
•comes from embryos
Now to the article (warning on lies from Australian newspaper)
Warning on cancer risk from stem cell therapy – NICK MILLER, November 23, 2009
EXPERTS fear that a Victorian man with leukaemia may be the first Australian ”infected” with cancer after treatment at a private overseas stem cell therapy centre.
Experts? Who are the experts? You mention “Stem cell specialists and patient support groups” but you give no credentials. In fact, the only credentials you list are from the Embryonic stem cell doctor – Dr Kirsten Herbert and as far as I can tell, she did not even comment on this story, although she “plans next month to investigate the case.” So she hasn’t even investigated the patient’s condition?
Experts don’t “fear”; they assess, research, deduce, investigate and make clinical and scientific observations. They pride themselves on their impartiality and emotionless scientific evaluatory skills. To say they fear goes agianst the very core of being a scientist. To say they fear is merely sensationalistic.
Did he go for Leukemia treatment? Leukemia has been treated with bone marrow transplants utilizing adult/repair stem cells (RSC) for over 40 years without negative side effects. All of a sudden there is a cancer risk? Why? Did they use embryonic stem cells in a leukemia bone marrow transplant? That would explain it…or did he get leukemia from a stem cell treatment for another disease? What disease? There is so little real info here in the opening line it is hard to judge what is really going on.
Stem cell specialists and patient support groups are calling for more public education about the dangers of such services, saying they get hundreds of calls a year from people considering using them – and the numbers are rising.
The companies advertise on the internet and via local information sessions, offering injections of foetal stem cells…
Foetal stem cells are essentially embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells develop into cysts and tumors. This procedure has a history of tumors development when used.
…and stem cells extracted from the patient’s spinal cord. They claim to treat conditions such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, autism and spinal injury.
Private, largely unregulated clinics in Asia and Europe…
Many of them are regulated by oversight groups and standards from 3rd parties.
…charge tens of thousands of dollars plus travel costs.
Please find me one doctor or hospital in the world that pays for your travel costs.
However few have published, clinical proof of their efficacy, relying instead on slick websites and individual testimonies.
Many of them have published studies and trials. The ONE treatment center this article focuses on does not (is the treatment center ever mentioned or is this just an attempt to paint all of the treatment centers in a bad light because of one?). As for the other qualified and reviewed treatment centers…
Costs for the majority of stem cell treatments range from US$15,000 to $35,000 including hotel but not airfare and food.
• You can get simple intravenous stem cell implants in some countries for as little as US$5000. Even if they are your own stem cells, this means in most instances that the cells are not separated and cultured from their parent tissue or fluid, which costs time and money; so we would not expect the therapy to be as effective for that reason.
You can go to a treatment center that provides inexpensive and lower quality treatments and pay the inexpensive costs…or you can go to a treatment facility that provides the best treatments and pay a higher cost…but you can NOT go to a crappy treatment center and complain about crappy treatments or get the best treatments in the world and complain about appropriate higher costs.
• It also means that the stem cells will not be implanted into a specific area based on the disease; i.e. into the heart for cardiovascular diseases, or into the pancreas for diabetes, or into the spinal canal for neurological diseases such as MS, CP, ALS and Autism.
• Some stem cells cost over US$10,000 to prepare. Some implant procedures cost over US$15,000 to perform. Some clinics include days or even weeks of physical therapy and care, which costs extra.
• In some cases expensive medical devices must be brought in to implant the cells into difficult areas such as the brain or the heart or the lungs, often doubling the cost from the above-mentioned range.
You get what you pay for, the choice is yours!
The stem cell treatments ranged in quality and safety but very few, if any, offered genuine hope, said Dr Kirsten Herbert, a hematologist at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and clinical adviser to the Australian Stem Cell Centre (ASCC).
Australia, like the US, is years behind the rest of the world in regard to Repair Stem Cell treatments. In fact, up until very recently, the focus in both countries has been entirely on embryonic stem cells.
”One man in Queensland paid $40,000 for a treatment [at a private German clinic] and was told he needed two or three more [visits] for a treatment that I cannot imagine, even with the most blue-sky open mind, could have helped him,” she said.
Which man? What disease, what clinic, what procedure, how many have been treated there for that disease with that procedure? What are the success rates? There is no info in here, just the status of her title to carry an empty and unsubstantiated and unreferenced comment. A quick search brought up this info from another article. I believe this is the article she was quoted out of context from:
“From what Dr Herbert’s read about Mr Tomasiello’s case, she doesn’t understand how the course of treatment prescribed for him will work. And among other grave concerns she has for his safety, she wants to know if the clinic is using cells that have been cultured using animal products, as that could introduce diseases such as Mad Cow. The prospect of cells causing cancer also troubles her. Dr Herbert denies Australia is dragging its feet in stem cell research, saying it is a world leader, and she shrugs off gasps over the use of embryonic stem cells. The creation of embryonic stem cells for scientific use is legal under federal law. All ethical dilemmas ultimately come down to an individual’s personal views, she said. And the testing that we particularly expect to see in stem cells science is what viruses could potentially have infected those cells, so HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and some of the other related viruses. And also have those cells been tested for their capacity to form tumours?”
Of course she is worried! Everything she is concerned about is in regard to embryonic or foetal stem cells. Repair Stem Cell extraction has about as much negative side-effect potential as giving blood. She is pro-embryonic stem cell research when so many in the world have abandoned embryonic research has fruitless for developing safe treatments. She should catch up. She is also anti-“embryonic caused problems” in the same breath. What a very awkward position for her.
”But they will take his money and not do anything to look after him when he leaves. If we practised a treatment like that we would be disbarred.”
The top treatment centers do follow ups and make sure the patient’s GP or specialist are contacted and informed.
Dr Herbert plans next month to investigate the case of a Victorian man being treated for leukaemia, which was diagnosed after his recent return from overseas stem cell therapy.
She said it was difficult to prove a link, but there was an international precedent: in February the journal PLoS Medicine reported the case of a teenage Israeli boy who developed brain tumours from experimental stem cell injections at a Russian clinic.
Correct. He was given EMBRYONIC stem cells. Embryonic stem cells produce tumors because their job is to split and split until they produce a fetus. You can manipulate them to repair but when they are finished they go back to splitting and often tumors are the result.
The Israeli boy, after he got tumors from embryonic stem cells was then healed with Repair Stem Cells at one of the top treatment centers in the world. Repair stem cells don’t produce tumors because their job is to repair and fix the tissues and organs of the body.
Dr Herbert said cancer was a rare but possible side-effect of [EMBRYONIC] experimental stem cell therapy.
There has not been a single incident of cancer from adult or repair stem cell treatments…and yet embryonic studies show cyst and tumor growth over and over. Even the pharmaceutical giant Geron with unlimited resources and finances can’t solve this problem.
”Most stem cells grow in a culture that is exposed to proteins and hormones that encourage growth, and cancer is out-of-control growth, so these [EMBRYONIC stem] cells have a greater potential to cause cancer,” she said.
Amazing how when you drop a word or two, the entire content changes.
Other risks included contamination from animal products used in laboratory processing of the stem cells, which could introduce Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Of the over 2,700 “adult stem cell” clinical trials (1,500+ complete) and 7,540 “adult stem cell” scholarly papers, evidence supports that the risk of RSC treatments are about the same as the risks associated with drawing blood. (Standard safe practice of lab protocols removes these risks almost entirely.)
Some clinics also instructed patients to go on medication to suppress their immune systems, with potentially dangerous side-effects.
ESC treatments require the use of immunosuppressive drugs (ISD) because ESC are typically allogenic (from outside the patient’s body). RSC are autologous (from patient’s own body) or from other sources that do NOT require ISD. ISD are needed to offset the potential of rejection or Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). GVHD occurs with ESC. Standard practice is to HLA type match the donors stem cells to the recipient’s body [“Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing is used to match patients and donors for bone marrow or cord blood transplants (also called BMT). HLA are proteins — or markers — found on most cells in your body. Your immune system uses these markers to recognize which cells belong in your body and which do not.”] Unfortunately, even when the ESCs are HLA type matched (both 1+2) you still need ISD because the recipient’s body can still reject the differences in many other aspects of the donated tissue. RSC DO NOT cause rejection issues or require ISD for GVHD.
”They don’t follow these patients up,” Dr Herbert said. ”They prescribe and wave goodbye without any duty of care.”
The top treatment centers follow up with patients, the sub-standard ones don’t. Only go to the top treatment centers. If they do NOT follow up, they will not stay at the top for long.
The financial and emotional risks to patients were just as great, Dr Herbert said. ”Most likely, the treatment you are going to receive is not going to work.” It was important not to demonise people who sought these cures, but instead to help them find the right advice.
RSC are treating about 80% of diseases successfully and more people are discovering their benefits every day. RSC give significant improvements to about 2/3 of the patients who are treated.
Patient advocacy groups are meeting stem cell experts in Canberra today to discuss a co-ordinated approach to public education on overseas experimental treatments.
You said this almost identical sentence above:
“Advocacy groups for people targeted as possible clients will meet in Canberra today to discuss how to protect people from being emotionally and financially exploited.”
The ASCC is about to release a patient handbook to help people critically analyse stem cell treatments. It has a list of questions to ask before signing up.