How Safe and Effective is Stem Cell Therapy?

When patient’s first start considering stem cell therapy for their medical condition, two of the most frequently asked questions are ‘is it safe?’ and ‘will it work?’

The short answer is that autogenic stem cell therapy (where the stem cells are taken from the patient’s own body) is generally a very low-risk treatment which, according to numerous patient testimonials and some promising trial results, often results in health improvement.

However, it should also be noted that stem cell therapies are part of an exciting new field of regenerative medicine, which continues to evolve at a rapid pace. It is almost certainly too early to claim that stem cells can cure a disease or wipe out the effects of injury, but almost every day we move a step closer to that vision.

How safe is Stem Cell Therapy?

There are tens of thousands of bone marrow-derived stem cell (BMDSC) transplants every year and many more patients undergoing various other forms of stem cell therapy. In addition to this, there are increasing numbers of clinical trials ongoing throughout the United States and Europe. To date, no significant safety issues have arisen from autogenic stem cell therapy although it should always be remembered that any treatment is only as safe as the team involved in administering it. You can find out more about the experienced team of stem cell doctors at the Mississippi Stem Cell Therapy Center on our website.

The cutting edge of scientific research will always throw up difficult dilemmas around risk and reward, and while some medical experts quite rightly advocate caution, trusting only the results of years of laborious clinical trials, others, also quite rightly, are keen to drive the field forward now, bringing closer that inevitable future which will see stem cells used to treat everything from baldness and tooth decay to infertility and Alzheimer’s Disease. By striking a balance between these two poles of conservatism and radicalism, the best of both worlds can be attained.

No one would advocate an irresponsible approach to stem cell therapy, but on the other hand, and as the following case studies demonstrate, we don’t always need to know the precise mechanisms that are behind a therapy to bring life-changing results to patients.

How an Experimental Eye Treatment Helped Restore a Woman’s Sight

A report in Oregon’s Bulletin (February 2016)(1) revealed the plight of Maryland resident Vanna Belton who suffered a sudden and severe loss of eyesight that rendered her legally blind. Vanna was diagnosed with optic neuritis – inflammation of the optic nerve – but after ruling out MS, her doctors were at a loss to explain its origin and could offer no plans for treatment. Naturally, Vanna explored all of her options until she was introduced to the clinical trials website operated by the National Institute of Health. There she came across the blindness stem cell trials being run by Dr Jeffrey Weiss. Described as ‘unorthodox,’ Dr Weiss’s trials by-passed many of the generally accepted standards of a scientific study. For example, no animal trials had been carried out, there were no pilot trials to assess safety and he employed no randomization. Nevertheless, Vanna joined the trial and underwent Dr. Weiss’s procedure, which involved injecting autogenic BMDSCs into the optic nerve of her left eye and into and around the retina of her right eye. Following the four-hour treatment, Vanna’s eyesight began to dramatically improve until she could once again read menu boards and vehicle license plates.

And Vanna’s case was not a unique positive that came out of Dr. Weiss’s trials. In an article he wrote for the journal Neural Regeneration Research, Dr. Weiss said that 60% of the 278 patients in the trial, who were living with glaucoma, macular degeneration or other eye diseases, experienced some improvement in vision.

While few medics or researchers would support such a radical approach to conducting trials, the case does illustrate that practical results are sometimes the priority – at least for patients – and the straightening out of the theory can come later. Learn more about: Stem Cells for Vision Loss.

Stem Cells Bring Relief for a Super Bowl Champion

Stem cell therapy is also used to great effect on less headline-catching ailments than blindness. For example, football star Mark Schlereth was plagued by pain following a 12-year career which saw him win the Super Bowl three times but also undergo multiple surgeries. Fox 31 Denver (2) told the story of how Schlereth underwent autogenic stem cell therapy with a mixture of plasma, platelets and BMDSCs injected into both of his shoulders. Schlereth described the analgesic results of his stem cell therapy as “amazing” and his son Daniel, who plays Major League Baseball has also embraced the procedure.

Survival Rates in Bone Marrow Transplants

In the 1950s, the power of stem cells was causing excitement in the field of oncology with the then-groundbreaking idea that stem cells from the bone marrow could be used to improve the prospects of people suffering from leukemia and other deadly cancers. Today, bone marrow transplant is a routinely accepted and life-saving therapeutic technique used to treat more than twenty different types of disease. After early complications caused by transplant rejection, recent study has revealed just how far the field has come on in the past 12 years thanks to the combined efforts of researchers, surgeons, physicians, advocacy groups and donors.

The study, reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, investigated the survival rates of 38,000 bone marrow transplant recipients and found that there were significant improvements over both 100 day and one-year timeframes. For patients who had received bone marrow from a related donor, survival rates increased from 85% to 94% after 100 days and from 48% to 63% after a year. Even those patients who had received bone marrow from an unrelated donor were living longer, up from 63% to 86% after 100 days. The main reasons behind these statistics are thought to be improvement in HLA tissue typing and better supportive care, alongside an increase in donor availability.

Bone marrow transplants are not the only authorized stem cell procedures. Since the 1970s, epidermal stem cells have also been approved for skin grafts, albeit only for very serious conditions and within specialized clinics, while the latest stem cell therapy to receive the legal stamp of approval (in Europe) is Holoclar®, which uses cells from the corneal limbus to treat certain types of corneal damage.

So by analyzing current statistics, investigating case studies and using the history of BMDSC transplants as a benchmark, there is cause for much optimism about the potential for safe stem cell therapies, administered by reputable treatment centers, to one day soon improve prognoses for patients living with many different types of injury and disease.

Conditions that may respond well to our minimally invasive SVF harvest and deployment treatment include orthopedic or joint disease; neurological disorder; fibromyalgia; heart or lung disease; autoimmune disease; erectile dysfunction; prostate problems; lichen sclerosis and incontinence. Our commitment to ‘excellence with a human touch’ is paramount at the pioneering Mississippi Stem Cell Therapy Center, located in Ocean Springs on the Gulf Coast.

Please call (886) 855 4823 for a free telephone consultation, or visit the Center website at http://www.gulfcoaststemcell.com for more information about our procedures and stem cell therapy in general. 

Reference:

1) www.bendbulletin.com/health
2) kdvr.com/2016/02/04/stem-cell-therapy-relieves-aches-and-pains-described-as-future-of-medicine