Videos of Patients Treated by StemNow
Fox 4 News: A Fort Worth police officer has returned from Central America after having a cutting edge medical procedure to help cure his multiple sclerosis. Last year we told you about Sergeant Preston Walker tonight Larry Barriger updates us on how he is feeling following his stem cell transplant.
Sergeant Preston Walker has always been active. With a demanding job at the Fort Worth Police Department, a wife, and young children, he doesn’t have time to slow down. But about 8 years ago he didn’t have a choice. MS started taking a toll making him limp when he walked, fatigue easily, even everyday conversation was a chore.
"I can sit here and talk but trying to come up with actual words to say and really construct a sentence that people would understand was sometimes very difficult"
Medicine helped keep the disease in remission but Preston wanted more. A chance for a cure.
"I wasn’t prepared to just let it stay in remission without me trying to do something, especially if there is an option out there to address it"
Sergeant Walker was initially planning to have his treatment done in China but he says the political situation seemed unstable, so he started looking online. He found another center that was doing adult stem cell treatment in Central America.
The procedure, a stem cell transplant was expensive but last October police officers from Fort Worth and Dallas teamed up to help raise money for the trip and the treatment. Last March Preston and fellow MS patient Richard Humphries flew to the Institute for Cellular Medicine, both underwent a stem cell transplant, a cutting edge medical procedure not approved in the US. Both took a risk on such a new treatment, both said they have seen marked improvement.
"I haven’t felt this good in 10 years. I don’t have any of the fatigue issues, all of the cognitive lack of clarity, that cloud has been lifted."
Walker says doctors at the Institute will be keeping up with him and Richard over the coming months and years to determine how successful the treatment was. He is hoping his improvements last and that the research leads to a cure for his and other’s multiple sclerosis.
Preston & Richard
It seems like a pretty simple task for a police officer just sitting and working on a computer. Just a couple of years ago, multiple sclerosis made that almost impossible for Fortworth Police Officer Preston Walker. New at 6 CBS 11’s Joe Thomas says Walker credits friends for recovery some feel is a miracle.
A year ago Preston Walker did not think he’d still be in uniform. Walker found out he has multiple sclerosis. He suffered chronic fatigue and began losing use of his legs.
I felt like my cognition was really declining at a rapid pace. I really felt if I made it through the end of the year, last year, I probably wouldn’t be employed any longer because the cognition just wasn’t there.
His fellow police officers held a hockey-game fundraiser to help him afford a revolutionary treatment. Walker and another MS patient, Richard Humphreys, went to Costa Rica. For the first time ever, doctors took samples of their fat, drew stem cells from it, and reinjected it. Their symptoms nearly vanished.
I’ll suffer from any of those symptoms that we talked about, the depression, the fatigue, the little cognitive cloud. I mean it’ll still hit occasionally, but its no where near every day or every moment of every day like it was.
If we or somebody doesn’t become a guinea pig, then how can that benefit others?
They led the way to a treatment that is now helped ease the suffering of dozens of others. Joel Thomas, CBS 11 News.
People like that who define good people. That’s incredible really is, great story.
For Thousands of people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, a plane trip may be more effective than a trip to their doctor’s office. There is a New treatment oversees that is getting some amazing results, but it is not yet allowed in the united states. Here is a look at what the patients are up against. MS is a disease of the CNS. It damages the protective insulation around the nerves an also damages the nerves themselves. That leads to a kind of short circuit causing a loss of bodily function. Channel 8 Janet St. James shows us why some MS patients are taking their treatment abroad.
James: Thirty three year old Angie Adcox went to Costa Rica in September not for the lush scenery, but for the life altering shots of stem cells. A risky and controversial treatment she says she had to take when American medicines failed her.
Angie Adcox: "I want to go try this, if not who is to say where I am going to be in another six months. I might be in a home somewhere."
James: Adcox had joined a growing number of North Texans spreading the word about stem cell injections for Multiple Sclerosis.
Leader of support group: "How many of you have been to Costa Rica at this point?": Majority of audience raise their hands
James: Most in this support group have seen improvements in pain, balance, vision, clear thinking, and other unseen signs of MS. Five months ago, Joey Quinn was in a wheelchair.
Joey Quinn: "After the third shot that I had with the stem cells, I took my cane away. I got rid of that. I didn’t need it no more."
James: We asked several specialists to talk to us about this stem cell treatment. They all refused, saying its unproven, potentially dangerous and could give patients false hope. The MS society warns against it, but a small study recently published in the journal Lancet shows stem cells helped 17 out of 21 patients. Julie Balley does not know precise details of the treatment she got four months ago. What she does know is she can wear high heels and stand up without help for the first time in years. Janet St. James, Channel 8 News.
News of the stem cell bill signing was received with joy by a Lakewood woman who says the research has already improved her life. CBS force Terry Jessup goes in depth this evening with how the research in other countries is helping people in Colorado. Coloradans are hopeful for the future.
Jennifer Blankenship has suffered from Multiple Sclerosis since 1984, after years of no relief from pills and alternative medicines.
Blankenship: "I have done every drug on the market for MS."
She traveled to Costa Rica to receive stem cell spinal injections.
Blankenship: "When I got back, I could move parts of my body, talk normally, I see normally, and can move both legs straight out, and I can still do this (raises her hand). I couldn’t move this hand before, so, that’s remarkable."
And when she heard the news the President has now reversed limits on using money for embryonic stem cell research…
Blankenship: "So this will absolutely be a miracle for so many people….And it only works for a couple of years. But a couple of years for me is a lifetime."
White: "It offers really new hope and exciting opportunities."
Terry White is President of Bridge Health international, a local company that arranged Jennifer’s trip.
White: "We have seen patients within a short time after treatment, who had paralysis from a stroke, being able to grab something with that paralyzed hand and actually throw a ball so their dog can chase it."
White concedes the stem cell treatments are expensive, normally running in other countries from twenty thousand up to sixty thousand dollars. Today’s Bill signing, he says, could change that, as more money becomes available for research. The question for people like Jennifer Blankenship is how soon the treatment she receives right now by the Institute for Cellular Medicine could become available her in the United States. That’s a question that’s tough to answer.
Blankenship: "It will probably be, hopefully in my lifetime."
In Lakewood, Terry Jessup, CBS 4 News.
"I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in November of 2004 and it has been a rollercoaster ever since. I have taken all the drugs, not all of them, but almost all the drugs here in the United States to treat my MS, so that I could remain walking and mobile and unfortunately, it did not keep working for very long.
So, at one point I decided to look for an alternative, and that alternative happened to be outside of the United States. I started to do research on stem cell treatment, and during the process I found out that there are actually companies here in the United States that are doing studies for stem cell treatment. They just cannot do it here yet, because it is not FDA approved. In the time frame, I went ahead and did the research and I contacted China and Israel and a clinic in Costa Rica. I actually chose them because they are tied to a company here in the United States called Medistem. And I was comfortable. I knew the facility would rival any hospital here in the US; and so I went down in November of last year, of 2008, to have stem cell treatment. I was there for thirty days and I had my own stem cells that came from my fat tissue, so they had a procedure to extract my own fat tissue and I also had treatment.
They injected me with donated stem cells from umbilical cords, umbilical cord blood, and those were done through a spinal injection. It worked absolutely amazing. I could not even imagine how well I was going to be after having just thirty days worth of treatment. I left to go to Costa Rica in November. I actually could not see out of my right eye. My balance- I would walk across the room and I would tilt to the side and I would lean against a wall. I was not using a cane, but probably because I was obstinate, and I did not want to. But there were times I needed to. Could not feel my feet, could not feel my fingers, at all. I had a hard time typing.
So I got on the plane. I took a five hour plane ride down to Costa Rica, South America. And I start the treatment and the week that I came home, I actually walked in a straight line for the first time in four years. They had me do that in my neurologist’s office as a baseline test most neurologists do for MS and it’s absolutely amazing. I can actually walk in a straight line. My balance has continued to get better and my strength is increasing. I can see out of my right eye. I had one of the awful side effects of – things you have go wrong with MS is bladder and I was having a problem with that when I went down there. By the time I came home, no more bladder problems. So I am actually drinking eight glasses of water a day again and just kind of picking up where I left off four years ago. I had waited for so long to figure out how I was going to get past this and keep mobile. And this one month of treatment in Costa Rica did it for me, and I am pretty much starting my life over at thirty-six, so I am pretty excited."
Background on Stem Cell Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
Use of stem cell therapy for the treatment of multiple sclerosis is a very exciting prospect that we will be discussing today. Essentially multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease that affects the central nervous system. It is immune mediated in that various types of T cells cause destruction of the myelin sheath which surrounds the nerves. Destruction of the sheath causes blocking of the interneuron communication leading to subsequent neural deterioration in the patient.
Currently used treatments revolve around immune modulation, agents such as interferon, steroids, copaxone, and monoclonal antibodies. The problem with the current day treatment of multiple sclerosis is twofold. On the one hand the immune modulators used have a variety of side effects. On the other hand the suppression is not specific. So the immune system is suppressed to a wide variety of antigens, this makes the patient susceptible to many bacteria and viral infections. Additionally, the immune modulatory treatments do not help the injured nervous system tissue to regenerate.
So we will discuss the use of stem cells. The first reason why stem cells are appealing for multiple sclerosis is that stem cells have been demonstrated to modulate the immune system in humans. The specific type of stem cell, mesenchymal stem cells, are already in Phase III clinical trials with efficacy being demonstrated in trials of graft versus host disease and Crohn’s disease. The second reason why stem cells are attractive is because the mesenchymal stem cells can selectively reprogram the immune system. Here is a publication demonstrating selective inhibition of autoreactive T cells by mesenchymal stem cells. From an immune modulating point of view, mesenchymal stem cells stimulate T regulatory cells. The picture shows upregulation of CD4+ CD25+ T regulatory cells after culture with mesenchymal stem cells.
In conclusion, from the immune modulatory point of view mesenchymal stem cells are attractive because they inhibit pathological immune responses in vitro and in vivo, as well as are able to stimulate generation of T regulatory cells.
Shifting gears, the possibility of using stem cells is attractive because not only can you inhibit the ongoing immune response, but also because you can regenerate tissue that has been damaged. The figure here shows a publication from the Journal of Clinical Investigation in which cord blood stem cells were given to a mouse model of stroke. As you can see a profound regeneration/protection of nervous system tissue is observed in the animals that received stem cells but not in the controls.
Another reason why regeneration of nervous system tissue may be possible by stem cells is because in this paper differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells was demonstrated into astroglial and neuronal cells. The other interesting point from the publication was that various mesenchymal stem cells can generate myelin.
So in conclusion, neural regeneration by stem cells seems to be plausible concept as demonstrated in numerous papers. Additionally stem cells can differentiate into myelin producing cells. Stem cell administration has also been shown to produce growth factors that stimulate endogenous stem cells.
From a safety perspective, adult stem cells have been used clinically in thousands of patients with no reported adverse effects. In this type of stem cell therapy there is no need for immune suppressants. Some of you may have heard about stem cell transplants for multiple sclerosis that involve administration of chemotherapy/radiotherapy to first destroy the recipient immune system, and then reconstitute it with new stem cells. The therapy that we are describing, involving mesenchymal stem cells does not require this potentially harmful conditioning regime. Additionally, we point out that adult stem cells are different than embryonic stem cells in that to date no formation of tumors or ectopic tissue formation has been reported using adult stem cells.
In conclusion, adult stem cell therapy is potentially beneficial in the treatment of multiple sclerosis because on the one hand we are inhibiting pathological immunity while concurrently stimulating regenerative processes.
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