HOUSTON - Are stem cells a magic pill to cure everything from aching joints to Alzheimer's? Pro athletes and a former Texas governor are among those banking on it, along with a Houston company.
In a Houston lab, stored at minus 193 degrees Celsius (or minus 380 Fahrenheit) are what could be a medical miracle, stem cells.
They have been that for 63-year-old Debbie Bertrand. She suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. Since 2011, she has had 2 stem cell treatments. Debbie said, "Within that first week my energy level came up." She added, "My eye doctor changed my prescription back to the previous prescription because my eye sight had gotten better."
She has regained some use of her left hand and most dramatically, she now uses a walker most of the time, instead of a wheelchair.
Debbie's own stem cells are banked at Celltex. Instead of embryos or bone marrow, these stem cells are taken from about 2 teaspoons of belly fat. In a clean room, the stem cells are separated out and then grown to fill a prescription.
The mesenchymal stem cells have tremendous regenerative properties. Celltex's CEO David Eller illustrated the property, by recalling the cut you got as a kid.
Eller said, "It turned red. Well that was stem cells that ran to heal that up."
In theory, the cells can treat degenerative and autoimmune diseases, such as Arthritis, Parkinson's & perhaps even Alzheimer's, along with more routine aches and pains.
Eller said, "We've done over 600 people who have all improved and without out any serious side effects at all."
Patients include former Governor Rick Perry and unnamed professional athletes.
Recently the FDA declared one's own stem cells as drugs in this case because they are introduced into your body in such large quantities. That means patients actually have to leave the country to use their own cells.
Celltex had gotten into FDA trouble for marketing the 'unlicensed drug' and manufacturing problems. The labs have since been cleaned up and Celltex now partners with a hospital in Mexico for patient treatment. Debbie will go there in May for her 3rd round of treatment. Each treatment costs $4,000 – $13,000. Since it is experimental in the US, is not covered by insurance.
By the way, David Eller isn't just a founder. He tried stem cells in 2011 for an old college football injury.
Eller said, "Since then I don't have any pain in that knee, I've had the pain for 50 years so it's huge for me."
For more: http://celltexbank.com/