Thanks to new stem cell therapy, a teenaged girl, suffering from partial paralysis due to a tumour in her spine, has been cured with the Human Embryonic Stem Cell (HESC) therapy at Nutech Mediworld facility in New Delhi.
Name mentioned merely as Kamini, who is 19 years old develped a tumour on her back that halted sensation in the entire lower part of her body, making her life miserable without control on her kidney functions, bladder and bowel, making her entirely dependent on others for daily chores.
When all consultations ended the hopes of the family about her rest of life, they were resigned to the fate of leeting her to the bed for life and on the advice of some fellow patients, Kamini’s parents took her to Geeta Shroff, an expert in Human Embryonic Stem Cell (HESC) therapy, in New Delhi’s Nutech Mediworld.
The new HESC stem cell therapy involves injecting isolated human embryonic stem cells into the patients to help their body heal on its own in a natural way as the stem cell that enters the body engrafts in the appropriate tissue and supplements replacement or repair of the missing function of the body.
The new stem cell therapy has no known side effects, said doctors who have conducted the operation as it is not a case of organ transplantation that needs immuno-suppressants.
In Kamini’s case, it was almost an 8-year therapy with Dr Shroff and the progress is alarmingly different as she has completely recovered from the paralysis and is able to walk on her own.
“The therapy has successfully treated patients with spinal cord injuries, diabetes, neurological disorders, Parkinson’s disease and even genetic disorders, amongst others,” said Shroff, who is confident that the HESC therapy may be the key to treating most of the known ailments and efforts to reduce human suffering.
“There is absolutely no need for cross-matching and the cells trigger no immuno-suppression when transplanted. Such is not the case in other non-embryonic stem cell treatments where the cells have to be matched from patient to patient, similar to blood transfusions,” she said.
Shroff says their facility has treated over 1,300 patients so far with no side effects, has over 15 research papers published in reputed journals in different parts of the world and her patients include those from abroad, including the US, Singapore, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
A former infertility specialist, Dr Shroff says she has cultured an endless line of stem cells from a single embryo donated by a fertility patient a decade ago and her treatments are effective because they use pure embryonic, not adult, stem cells and no other species’ genetic material.
However, Dr. Shroff faces flak from the community of other stem cell researchers for not sharing the data and not putting her experiments to peer review. She defends that she does not share data as there are no peers in her field.
Otherwise, her facility has attracted many foreigners who find $20,000 fee not much compared to the success rate she claims.
“The regulators do not seem to realize the potential and problems associated with this therapy,” Maneesha Inamdar of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore told The Globe and Mail earlier, pointing out lack of data from Dr Shroff’s trials on patients.
As per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines “there is no approved indication for stem-cell therapy as a part of routine medical practice, other than bone marrow transplantation.” Since, most of these modern therpies are experimental, the guidelines are non-enforceable.
The Stem Cell Research Forum of India says the stem-cell industry may grow at 15% reaching a billion-dollar industry by 2017.
Most of these clinics culture cells derived from embryos, fetuses, umbilical-cord blood and adults, either from someone else, or autologous or one’s own cells, derived from bone marrow. And embryonic stem cells are known for their plasticity to grow into any kind of tissue. Since US bans funding for creating human embryo, it is growing in other countries like India and China.
Dr. Shroff says she has developed unique embryonic stem cells to do safe, effective therapy.