Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stem cell therapy outsourced

Deepak Singh, a 34-year-old businessman in Mumbai, India was shot, injuring his spinal cord and causing him to lose all sensation and movement in his lower body. Three years later, he saw a doctor who claimed to cure spinal cord injured patients with stem cell therapy. Singh proceeded with the treatment, but had no improvement. He later realized that he had been scammed and had been injected with an unidentified fluid labeled stem cells. For seven years he remained paralytic and bedridden. In late 2009, he opted to try stem cell therapy again (from a different doctor), having embryonic stem cells injected into his spinal cord. This time, he had improvement, which is quite astonishing given the seven years since his injury.

In 2010, the FDA authorized the Geron Corporation to begin embryonic stem cell trials for use on patients with spinal cord injuries. The study is centering on acute injuries, despite trials at different centers internationally that have shown positive results in chronic spinal cord injuries. Seven centers around the country will participate in the trial, including the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Many scientists welcomed this milestone.

Prior to this, the FDA had not approved human trials with embryonic stem cells. The FDA has finally recognized the evidence supporting that stem cells hold promise and are safe enough to test in humans.

Dr. Dennis Lox, a Tampa Bay area physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist who also specializes in regenerative medicine, notes that he tried to get patients enrolled in the Shepherd study, but due to the long duration of the patients’ injuries, he was unsuccessful.

Dr. Lox has utilized stem cells and regenerative medicine techniques such as platelet-rich plasma to help patients with acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries, using their own (autologous) stem cells for transplantation.

Dr. Lox heralds the initiation of U.S. stem cell trials in humans as the beginning of new era in which previously incurable disorders now have potential for cure.

Dr. Lox notes that researchers internationally are moving forward with numerous stem cell trials. For example, Italian researchers have shown that corneal burns, resulting in blindness, have been cured with stem cell therapy. Therefore, it seems only natural that spinal cord injuries also be studied and given a trial. Dr. Lox points out that if the stem cells are autologous (derived from the patient’s own tissues) there is little chance of any harm coming to the patient – a blind patient cannot become more blind, and likewise, if one is paralyzed, the hope of regaining use of their affected limbs is a very potent force in motivation to find cures for previously-thought incurable disorders.

Dr. Dennis Lox references the case of Rusty Leech, who sustained a spinal cord injury in 1998, leaving his lower body paralyzed. Leech traveled from the U.S. to India in early 2008 for embryonic stem cell therapy. Five months after the therapy, Leech was able to stand up without support and was able to ambulate with braces and a walker. He has since returned to India for additional stem cell therapy.

There had been numerous other instances of patient’s reporting improvement after stem cell therapy and it is time that independent larger scale clinical trials be implemented in spinal cord injury patients.



  1. So sad about the news that people had already suffered but there are still people that have no feelings. They still scammed instead they should help.

  2. Thanks a lot for providing valuable information.It'll really help us in future.

  3. Great! the truth is I really have no idea when it comes to injury now, after reading this blog I have gather some information that will in the near future!great blog.

    James Makker Neurosurgeon

  4. Great topic...Very informative source,I like reading about your blog and It's nice to hear your blog post.Thanks for your sharing.

    James Makker MD

  5. Its great to see cell therapy is still moving forward