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Hope Through Stem Cell Therapy

Kati O'Hare, Montrose Daily Press, March 21, 2010

Mary Posta suffers from multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease that progressively degenerates the nervous system of its victims through stripping away the insulator proteins surrounding the nerves called myelin.

In January of this year Mary Posta completed raising funds to be treated by Cellmedicine in Central America using stem cells and returned from treatment feeling "really good".  Specifically, after a month spent at Cellmedicine, she stated "I can walk and talk better, and there are other things." She adds "My memory seems to be better. I'm moving faster on thinking and talking, and I have a lot more energy. I used to have to take sleeping pills but have not had to start taking them again."

The stem cell therapy comprises of an intensive four-week program of stem-cell and physical therapies.  The stem cells used are from adult sources and therefore are not subjected to the ethical controversy associated with other types of stem cells such as fetal or embryonic stem cells.

Cellmedicine has previously published results of the first three multiple sclerosis patients in a peer reviewed medical journal which can be found at this link

The approach used involves administration of the cells purified from the fat of the patients.  These cells contain two types of stem cells, one called mesenchymal and the other called hematopoietic.  Additionally, cells extracted from fat include alternatively activated macrophages and T regulatory cells.  At a theoretical level these cells may be mediating their effects as follows: 

Mesenchymal stem cells are known to inhibit multiple sclerosis when administered in animal models of the disease, as seen in this video .  The video discusses one mechanism by which mesenchymal stem cells achieve this effect, particularly through induction of an enzyme called indolamine 2,3 deoxygenase, which is responsible for shutting down autoreactive T cells.  Since multiple sclerosis is a disease in which T cells are mediating destruction of the myelin sheath, suppression of autoreactive T cells is theoretically beneficial.  Additionally, mesenchymal stem cells are known to produce various growth factors that increase ability of the body's own cells to repair themselves.  Furthermore, some studies have suggested that mesenchymal stem cells themselves are capable of differentiating into oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells, which produce myelin, as well as into brand new nervous system tissue. 

Hematopoietic stem cells are conventionally known as the cells that are responsible for the therapeutic effect of bone marrow transplantation.  That is, these are the cells that produce all the blood cells in the body.  More recent studies have shown that hematopoietic stem cells, such as CD34 positive cells,  are capable of producing growth factors such as IGF-1, these are capable of protecting various cells in the body from premature cell death.  Additionally, there are some studies that suggest CD34 cells are capable of regenerating injured nervous system tissue.

Alternatively activated macrophages comprise a subset of the immune system cell classically known as the "big eater".  While conventional macrophages are involved in protecting the body from disease by eating pathogens, as well as producing inflammatory stimuli, alternatively activated macrophages are involved in healing of damaged tissue.  It is known that alternatively activated macrophages generate substances such as interleukin-10 that shut down ongoing immunological/inflammatory reactions, as well as assist in tissue healing.

T regulatory cells resemble the "anti-matter" of T cells.  The body has two parallel universes of T cells.  The conventional T cells are responsible for attacking everything that does not belong to the body.  That is, conventional T cells recognize and kill bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.  On the other hand, T regulatory cells recognize everything that "belongs" to the body.  For example, there are T regulatory cells in the body that recognize myelin.  The difference between T regulatory cells and conventional T cells is that T regulatory cells do not "kill" but instead prevent what is being recognized by conventional T cells from being killed.  In other words the T regulatory cells serve as a backup mechanism for the immune system so that in situations such as multiple sclerosis, where the conventional T cells are attacking something that they should not be attacking, the T regulatory cells try to inhibit that attack.  Unfortunately in multiple sclerosis, by the time the disease is clinically detected, the T regulatory cells are not exerting their effects for reasons some known and some unknown.  Adipose tissue contains high numbers of T regulatory cells, which are more potent than T regulatory cells found from other tissues in the body.  This is explained in this video, which discusses a publication from Harvard Medical School

Given the potent combination of stem cells, and other therapeutic cells, found in fat tissue, it is interesting that the company Vet-Stem has already commercialized the procedure of using fat-derived cells for treatment of companion animals.  Here is a video discussing some of Vet-Stem's technologies .

Use of fat stem cells in patients with multiple sclerosis has been previously reported in numerous other media venues:

CBS News:

Fox 4 News:

Texas Channel 8 News:

CBS 4 News:

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