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Thread: Installment 21 - Ask the Doctor with Dr Paz

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    Default Installment 21 - Ask the Doctor with Dr Paz


    As always a big thank you to our host. This month the forum's focus is on MS.

    The Stem Cell Institute is a cutting edge medical clinic that uses adult stem cells to treat chronic diseases for which there are inadequate standard therapies. The Institute is currently accepting patients with Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Diabetes Type 2, Heart Failure, Osteoarthritis & Degenerative Joint Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Spinal Cord Injury.

    At the Stem Cell Institute you will find the facilities and level professionalism found in facilities typical of the top medical centers in the United States. The Institute is located in Panama City, Panama.

    For more information on treatment for multiple sclerosis, visit

    Dr.Jorge Paz-Rodriguez can be reached at +1 866 244 9314 or +507 204 8529.

    Q: How are you treating MS that might be unique from other clinics?

    A: We use what is called the SVF from the patients? own fat. The SVF, or stromal vascular fraction obtained from the fat contains large numbers of stem cells and other regulatory cells that help to modulate the inappropriate T cell response that is a very important mechanism that affects patients with MS. MS is first a disease of the immune system that manifests itself as a neurological disease.

    Q: I am 56. Are there age limits to when stem cells might not benefit someone? I have had MS for 32 years. Has too much damage been done?

    A: Age is not a limitation but the best results are in patients that have the disease for less than 10 years. The dominant effects of our treatments are on the immune system. People who have had the disease for a very long time are more likely to have significant lesions that are less likely to heal even if the immune problem is sufficiently addressed.

    Q: Is there a possibility that treatment might not work at all? If so, what approximate percentage does that happen to?

    A: Yes there is a chance, and we inform every patient of this before they come for treatment, and again when they arrive. Approximately10-15% of people do not respond significantly. There are factors that play a role in this such as co- morbid conditions and stage of the disease.

    Q: If you are treating MS (or another disease) might the stem cells heal another part of the body that is under attack by another disease - like my degenerative disc disease? Can it regenerate the bone loss?

    The stem cells found in the fat (mesenchymal stem cells, or MSCs) are known to home to areas of inflammation and damage so it is possible that the cells can help with other inflammatory conditions. Regarding degenerative disc disease in would need direct injection into the damaged area would more likely get better results. Our colleagues have treated orthopedic conditions such as degenerative hip disease, torn ligaments and osteoarthritis with direct injections into the joint, with some success. Some doctors are using bone marrow MSCs that are grown in culture to treat orthopedic conditions?there is at least one published article on that procedure. In the case of MSCs from the fat tissue, you can isolate as many as 200 million MSCs from a single mini-liposuction. Since this is much less complicated, takes less time, and minimizes the risk of something going wrong during the culture process, I think in the future you will see more of this work being done. There is a company in California, Vet-Stem that has been providing a stem cell isolation from fat service to Veterinarians for a few years. They written several articles on the benefits of direct injection of the SVF into joints for cartilage repair and ligaments of dogs and horses.
    I do not have information on the use of the cells for the regeneration of bone.

    Q: Does adult stem cell treatment for MS work better for relapsing remitting MS (inflammatory stage) or the later progressive stage(neurodegeneration stage)?

    A: We have had success with patients with both relapsing remitting and also with secondary progressive MS. We have not seen as much success with patients who have primary progressive MS.

    Q: Why are American researchers destroying the immune system before implanting adult stem cells? Do you do this?

    A: We do not destroy the immune system. The American researchers are actually treating the inappropriate immune cells in MS using chemotherapy?in those cases the stem cells are used to rescue the patient who would otherwise die from infection or some other cause. We are using stem cells to modulate the immune system, not destroy and replace it. We do not use chemotherapy.

    Q: Is there a way you could get donors to sponsor MS patients who don't have the income to afford these procedures since their insurance does not cover what they consider "experimental procedures"?

    A: We do quite a bit of charity treatments ourselves?mostly local patients who have priority. At present there is no local foundation through which donors could sponsor patients.

    Q: Is your company a member of the International Cell Medicine Society (ICMS), a physician run organization dedicated to establishing best practice lab and clinical guidelines for adult stem cell use?

    A: I have heard of the U.S. based society, and as I understand they are relatively new. We have not had any contact with them, but would be interested in hearing more. Our laboratory is licensed by the Ministry of Health of Panama and we comply with Good Laboratory Practices. Our lab personnel are all highly trained scientists also licensed by the Government.

    Q: Is StemNow (ICM) collecting patient case histories (success and failures) that will be made available so we can get a better idea of how well adult stem cells work for MS? If so, how many MS patients have been treated and what percentage respond and to what degree? Will this information be made available to the public?

    A: Our researchers have written the first scientific paper on the treatment of MS with fat stem cells, which was published several months ago in the journal of translational medicine. Here is the link:

    We are compiling data for the next paper, which will have response data from 60 more consecutive patients.

    Q: Can you briefly describe your program for MS? Does it take several treatments? Is it painful? Will I be hospitalized? How are the stem cells extracted and then put back in?

    A: We have 2- and 4-week protocols. The patient is evaluated in our clinic and a complete physical and pre-op evaluation is done. A mini-liposuction is done by a Board Certified plastic surgeon under sedation in a surgical center. This is an outpatient procedure. That fat is then processed in our laboratory to isolate the SVF cells. In week 2-3 depending of the protocol the SVF obtained from the fat is given to the patient in 2 IV infusions. Also the patient receives several intrathecal injections (6-8) in the lumbar spine of cells from umbilical cord from donors that have been extensively evaluated for infectious diseases. These are done by Board Certified anesthesiologists and are also done as an outpatient procedure in a Surgical Center. In addition patients also undergo physical therapy program?which is known to help with patients with neurological damage.
    Last edited by barbara; 09-04-2009 at 04:39 PM.

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