Monday, April 07, 2008

Experimental Russian Stem Cell Treatments Credited for Woman's Progress

Experimental Russian stem cell treatments for spinal injury credited for woman's progress


Notice: The following excerpts are taken from the Grand Rapids Press. A link the the entire article is listed below, and is well worth the time to read.
When Kadi DeHaan took her first steps in December, two years after a car accident forced her into a wheelchair, she did it in typical Kadi style: low-key, nonchalant and with a confident grin.


Apparently, she knew all along she would walk away from her pink and black wheelchair and her customized leg braces, despite a spinal cord injury at chest level and a grim prognosis that she would never walk again.

It happened after two years of intensive therapy and six trips to Russia, where her stem cells were harvested and then injected into her spinal cord to restore nerves.

Kadi's progress is "very much a unique and wonderful thing," said physical therapist Sandy Burns, director of the Center for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery in Rockford, a clinic affiliated with the Detroit Medical Center.

No one can say for sure if nearly two years of experimental treatments or hours upon hours of physical therapy -- a trio of three-hour sessions every week -- led Kadi to where she is today.

Probably both, said Burns, whose clients sometimes head to Russia or Portugal or China for treatments that aren't approved in the U.S. and generally aren't covered by insurance.

The physical therapy is a very important component, "but it's definitely Russia," that put Kadi back on her own two feet, Kadi's mom, Bonnie, insisted. "There are just too many coincidences. Kadi knows that what she's got she got from Russia."

After fundraising dollars ran out more than a year ago, Kadi's parents took out a loan to pay for the trips to Russia. The three-year protocol recommended by Moscow doctors will cost in excess of $150,000.

At the time, Kadi had just a bit of feeling in her feet and could walk only with lots of help from custom-built leg braces and a walker.

Since then, she's given up the braces and is "tons stronger" and "a lot more independent," she said. She's a full-time student at Davenport University who quaffs Mountain Dew and confesses to sending text messages during class.

"I've seen a lot of changes. I've seen motor return, sensory return, everything," Kadi said.

She's so convinced of the gains made at the NeuroVita Clinic that she's planning her seventh trip there in August. Quite a change of attitude after she declared the first trip "the worst three weeks of my life."

Burns, who is quick to say her clinic does not endorse any of the alternative treatments, acknowledged that the stem cell injections do seem to make a difference, at least for Kadi.

"Folks that have gone there have, I think, consistently reported that they are noticing changes. They are feeling more," Burns said.

She tempers her optimism with the reality of what she sees every day: some of her clients will never accomplish half as much as Kadi has. Progress often depends upon the severity of the spinal injury, not just the region of the spine that was damaged.

That's why Burns doesn't make predictions about what her clients will eventually accomplish. But of course, she hopes Kadi continues to make great strides.




The Neurovita Clinic


Where: Moscow, Russia
What: Treats spinal cord injuries, degenerative disorders and some cancers with patient's own stem cells, which are harvested, grown and re-injected. Clinic moved away from use of embryonic stem cells because of compatibility issues.
Insurance: Because treatment is experimental and not performed here, U.S. insurance policies don't cover it.
Website: neurovita.ru/eng_index.html

The NeuroVita clinic was founded by neurologist Andrey S. Bryukhovetskiy in 2002. It's located on the campus of the Russian State Medical University and can accommodate 35 patients.

The clinic dabbled in embryonic stem cell treatments but now uses only autologous material -- that which is obtained from the patient -- because there are no problems with compatibility, not to mention politics and religion, according to the Web site.

About 11 of every 100 patients with spinal cord injuries walk again after the stem cell treatments, Bryukhovetskiy told them.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Read the Full Post!
 

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Clinical Trial Suggests Bone Marrow Stem Cells Are Useful for Spinal Cord Injury

Patients Experienced Increased Mobility After Treatment; Preliminary Results Involving 25 Patients Presented at International Society for Cellular Therapy?s Annual Meeting in Sydney

PrimeCell? Therapeutics LLC announced that it provided research support and pre-clinical studies for a clinical trial to assess the safety, feasibility and efficacy of implanting autologous bone marrow stem cells into spinal cord injury (SCI) patients.

Dr. Luis Geffner presented a preliminary report at the 13th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Cellular Therapy, held here June 24-27. From May 2006 to January 2007, 25 patients with SCI were treated at Luis Vernaza Hospital in Guayaquil, Ecuador. They were treated with autologous bone marrow stem cells ? meaning the cells were extracted from the patients' own bone marrow.

Fifteen patients (60 percent) could stand up, ten patients (40 percent) could walk on the parallels with braces, seven (28 percent) could walk without braces, and four (16 percent) could walk with crutches. Patients demonstrated improvements in sensitivity, motility, bladder sensation, even controlling sphincters, erection and ejaculation. No adverse event was observed.

"These preliminary results, while encouraging, must be interpreted cautiously and prudently, and we must continue work examining the benefits of surgically implanted autologous bone marrow stem cells to patients with spinal cord injuries," said Geffner, director of the stem cell program at the Junta de Beneficencia de Guayaquil. He emphasized that this work was done with the help and support of the Junta de Beneficencia, Benemerita Sociedad de Lucha Contra el Cancer (SOLCA), and with the research support and pre-clinical studies performed by stem cell biologist and senior author Francisco Silva and his team at PrimeCell Therapeutics, based in Irvine, Calif.

The study included in vitro (laboratory tests), pre-clinical (animal) and clinical (human) data.

"There is evidence demonstrating significant improvement in the quality of life of patients receiving the treatment, including spinal cord regeneration and additional clinical improvements following these stem cell transplants,? said Silva, vice president of research and development for PrimeCell Therapeutics. ?More research is needed, of course, but this is very encouraging. Our ultimate goal, as always, is not just research ? but research that will lead to timely viable therapies."

Labels: , , ,

Read the Full Post!