A very good post, tzootsi. I agree that the overwhelming vast majority of stem cell clinics around the world are just scams stealing people's money (and good warning about surfing their websites). The unfortunate part is that just using the words "stem cells" gets uneducated people excited that there may be a miracle waiting to cure them. I'm sure that eventually there will be some uselfeul & helpful stem cell therapies, but so far none have been proven to show any repeatable benefit. An interesting short addendum to the 60 minutes link you posted:Extra: A Warning About Stem Cell Fraud http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3WqM3Nv ... re=related
BTW, just to add a comment about a small but important distinction regarding Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) treatment (if its not clear already). . . . it is not the stem cells that cure the underlying MS. It is the chemotherapy. The hematopoietic stem cells (probably) have no beneficial effect on MS, and are used only to re-constitute the immune system following the curative effects of the chemotherapy.
What I wrote in my blog. . . . Stem Stem Cell "Treatments" (not Transplants)
I would like to make an important note here regarding stem cell "treatment" that many people are receiving. This is NOT the same thing as a stem cell "transplant," and is actually just another form of useless snake oil. Here is a passge from my very first posting of November, 2009 of this blog:
. . . . I should mention regarding other forms of stem cell therapy that are offered in an after-market environment. There are many companies offering stem cell therapies that collect stem cells from adipose fat tissue, bone marrow and other sources, and then do an IV infusion and/or intrathecal injections [to re-introduce these cells back into the body without the use of chemotherapy]. The theories cited for these treatments are usually valid, but from what I have learned not a single such "stem cell procedure" of this type has shown any clinical evidence for curing MS. Probably the downside risk is small for these therapies, but the upside usually fails to materialize and can be drowned out by the marketing hype of these companies (which is why these therapies are not available in the United States due to FDA restrictions). I feel sorry for people that get sucked into these programs that offer little clinical benefit beyond a placebo effect. And I feel especially bad for anyone seeking such a treatment in lieu of the true cure of a stem cell (bone marrow) transplant. . . . . .
Costa Rica, Panama and China have been the largest treatment locations for this clinically unproven therapy, although there are also many other (unregulated or unenforced) countries where such companies operate. Some facilities even un-necessarily venture into the ethically & morally questionable use of embryonic stem cells when adult hematopoietic stem cells are actually the preferred curative method where there exists no controversy or moral question. In fact, the Government of Costa Rica recently came to thier senses and decided to do something about companies offering such services with undemonstrated clinical efficacy and shut down the largest stem cell treatment center (ICM / Medistem / Cell Medicine), and likely will continue to do so with others still operating in the country. I'm thinking China likely will not make any changes to the status quo so long as it brings in money for them any way possible. Even if it is unethical, as such stem cell "treatments" are.
Check out this video excerpt from 60 minutes regarding stem cell quackery around the world:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3WqM3Nv ... re=related
"This isn't allowed in any serious country in the world," Health Minister Maria Luisa Avila [of the Costa Rican Government] said in a telephone interview. . . . . .
But still many people with MS are desperate for a treatment and some are angry the facilities are being shut down. The following video that I found on Youtube is of an individual that went to Costa Rica and had some of this unproven mesenchymal stem cell "treatment." I salute her for being proactive and wanting to take control of her disease, but unfortunately she operated off of flawed information. It is no mystery that she is unable to report stopping of the disease or meaningful improvement beyond normal & expected improvement following a relapse of her MS symptoms (the fact that she continues to have relapses at all is evidence that her MS is not cured). That is because she got the wrong stem cell medical protocol. If she would have received a hematopoietic stem cell "transplant" instead of a mesenchymal stem cell infusion "treatment," likely her disease would have been completely stopped and even reversed. I always keep in mind. . . . In-vitro (in the test tube) results do NOT equal in-vivo (in the patient) results. In the end the only thing that matters is clinically presented outcome. (My MS is not just stopped, it is slowly, but substantially reversing even as you read this. All without any use of MS drugs. That is how I define "clinical outcome" of a cure.) You'll also notice in the following video that she indirectly mentions the hematopoietic stem cell 'transplant' clinical trials in the United States (HALT-MS & MIST) focussing only on the chemo (which admittedly is a hard, but not impossible-to-endure part of the procedure) and completely ignores the fact that this is the only clinically-demonstrated procedure to cure MS today. The only comment contribution she makes for stem cell transplantation is that she uses the word "harsh" to describe the chemo (which I don't dispute), even though the chemo is a critical and necessary part of the cure. The chemo is absolutely required to reset the immune system flawed memory, otherwise there would be no cure without it! Like many people I'm still baffled as to why more people with MS don't recognize a stem cell 'transplant' for the only cure that it is for MS as opposed to the irrational belief in other un-scientific & unproven treatments. Is it just the money (cost of procedure)? Is it because they're really scared of the chemo treatment? Or perhaps something else that is more fundamental to human behavior? At this point your guess is as good as mine.
I just ask that you not be confused by all the (sometimes conflicting) terminology floating around out there regarding stem cells (as this individual clearly is). There is no substitute for the cure of a hematopoietic stem cell transplant (if the procedure does not use chemotherapy to ablate the immune system, then it's NOT a transplant). And the words from this individual receiving the wrong treatment tells me that there is still a lot of confusion out there. BTW. . . the stem cell treatment center that she went to, ICM in San Jose, Costa Rica, is the same stem cell center that has been permanently shut down by the Costa Rican Government due to lack of any proven clinical efficacy or medical usefulness:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcfIvgzy ... re=related
Her own words that her "treatment" (that I am sorry) did not cure her:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZG_M1S8H ... re=channel