Coach's fight a team effort
Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, February 27, 2010
Sam Harrell is a well-known Ennis football coach and father
of Texas Tech's former quarterback Graham Harrell. Steve Betik has worked in
construction for decades. Both of them suffer from multiple sclerosis. When
they asked the Ennis chiropractor Dr. William Davis about using stem cells for
their condition, his reaction was that it would be expensive, but if they wanted
to go for it, he would help raise the needed funds. Both of them have
registered for an experimental stem cell therapy offered in Central America by
Cellmedicine. This is the same stem cell treatment that allowed Texas Fort Worth
Police Sergeant Preston Walker, a patient with multiple sclerosis be able to
return to work after failing to respond to the medication given by his
Treatment for multiple sclerosis generally addresses
symptoms, but when conventional approaches stop inducing responses, there are
very little options left. One area of active investigation has been stem cell
therapy. Although very new, a small three-year study by the Northwestern
University School of Medicine concluded last year that stem cell transplants
from the patients' own bodies might help control or even reverse symptoms.
Unfortunately, FDA approval of such methods, even if documented in larger
research, is years away. Specifically, three phases of clinical trials have to
be conducted. Phase I involves testing of safety. Phase II clinical trials
test whether there is a therapeutic effect, however these are "unblinded" in
that the patients know that they are receiving an experimental treatment, thus
the possibility exists of placebo effect. Phase III clinical trials are
performed at multiple hospitals in a "double blinded" manner so that neither the
doctor, nor patient knows whether they are receiving the treatment or the
placebo. At present stem cell therapy for multiple sclerosis has only reached
Phase I/II clinical trials.
Companies such as
www.cellmedicine.com offer stem cell therapy based on the same science and
medical practices used in the United States. To date over 200 patients with
multiple sclerosis have been treated by Cellmedicine, however they openly state
that the procedure is experimental. This did not deter Sam Harrell and Steve
Betik. They are scheduled to fly together in June to the Cellmedicine clinic in
Central America, where Harrell is expected to remain two weeks; Betik, a month.
In order to raise funds to support their treatment, the
Ennis football boosters club, in conjunction with the town's chamber of
commerce, is hosting a dinner and auction April 10. Davis and others hope that
any excess funds they raise through the Foundation for Hope will be applied to
an annual fundraiser for anyone with special needs.
"We're like babies crawling," Davis said of their efforts.
"Who knows what the future will hold?"
Patients interested in learning more about Cellmedicine can
go to the website
www.cellmedicine.com or view videos at