By David Ikudayisi
In recently published papers in the New England Journal of Medicine about the use of Stem Cell Therapy for Macular Degeneration, one report showed that 3 partially blind women became blind after the treatment with stem cells and the other report showed that an inevitable loss of vision was halted by use of stem cells in another patient. The stem cells used in these two reports were from two different sources – fat and skin cells.
First of all, we need to remember or understand that Macular Degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, known as the macula, and it is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, and it controls our ability to read, drive a car, recognize faces or colors, and see objects in fine detail. In America, it affects more than 10 million people – more than cataracts and glaucoma combined.
Caucasians are more likely to develop the disease than African-Americans, Hispanics/Latinos or Africans. At present, Macular Degeneration is considered an incurable eye disease, and the closest hope for cure seems to be via Stem Cell Therapy. As shown in the reports, there is still a lot to be understood about stem cells in terms of dosing, frequency, source to be used for different disorders, etc; especially when talking about very sensitive organs of the body like the eyes.
The Florida Company that treated the three patients that went from partial blindness to total blindness have treated over 7,000 patients and have had very few adverse events reported. The scientific director of the company believes the safety track record is very strong and feels very confident about the procedures that they do as it has shown great success in many different health problems.
However, the rarity of the procedure causing harm draws me to see the many benefits and potential Adult Stem Cell Therapy could have on people. Examples of its effectiveness has been seen in so many patients in different studies and even in my own practice in the United States of America. There are already beneficiaries of Adult Stem Cell Therapy in Nigeria. I can say that my experience using stem cells have been great.
In fact, of all the patients that I have treated, only one did not respond positively after just 1 treatment. This was not even done with Adult Stem Cell Therapy but Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy using the patient’s own blood. Nevertheless, there was no adverse event. The patient is recommended to do Adult Stem Cell Therapy which will increase his chance of success. Many of the other patients showed improvements after the first treatment, and the few that needed second treatment went on to see amazing results after more treatment was done; needless to say that they were elated with the results.
Generally, Adult Stem Cell Therapy and Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy are safe as shown by many published research reports and clinical trials done already. However, this does not guarantee that adverse effects can’t occur as seen in the case of the 3 women who had accelerated blindness 2 years ago (as with any other treatments in the scope of medicine).
Another recent report in March 2017 from Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University in USA highlighted one of the benefits of Adult Stem Cell Therapy in stroke patients. The multicenter trial shows that not only was it safe, but if Adult Stem Cell Therapy is given within two days of an ischemic stroke, it could reduce the death of cells around the stroke’s core that were also injured. The Nigerian government should get involved more and invest more in Regenerative Medicine as it will help improve the health status of the nation.
- Ikudayisi is of Glory Wellness and Regenerative Centre. The centre can be reached via [email protected] or 09090004532.