Nashville, TN (PressExposure) April 07, 2009 -- President Obama recently signed an executive order to relax the date restriction and allow scientists using newer cell lines to apply for government grants to fund their blastocystic stem cell research. But, that did not remove the controversy surrounding the issue. Perhaps by again bringing stem cell research into the public eye, the president's efforts will bring science a step closer to making treatments using non-controversial placental stem cells available to U.S. citizens in their own country.
Placental stem cells derived from placenta (afterbirth) have been used in Mexico and Europe to successfully treat a variety of conditions and diseases, but unfortunately the U.S. remains behind other countries in science and medical technology in regard to stem cell research. For the past 25 years, U.S. residents have gone out of the country to receive placental stem cell treatment for cancer, cerebral palsy, dermatomyositis, diabetes, hepatitis C, HIV, immune deficiency, kidney disorders, multiple sclerosis, migraines, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson's, retinitis pigmentosa, rheumatoid arthritis, spina bifida, and stroke. While placental stem cell therapy has not been approved for use in the U.S., it is benefitting people who are physically and financially able to travel to Mexico. Rita Alexander is such a patient.
Twenty-six years ago, Rita was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). She sought treatment to halt the progression of this disease through traditional medicine. Once she learned there were no solutions through conventional medicine, she sought alternative and complementary treatment. She tried every medication available and even traveled to the Bahamas and Mexico looking for a treatment that would relieve her suffering. Most physicians told her that RA was something she would just have to learn to live with. She refused to accept this reality, even when she became extremely debilitated and practically bedridden a couple of years ago. She was desperate when she decided to go to a center in Mexico to receive placental stem cell implants.
Within four months of her first stem cell treatment, Rita improved significantly, experiencing an improvement in the reduction of pain and swelling in her joints, and a dramatic increase in energy. She required several treatments over the next few years to bring her condition under control, but at age 51 today, her back pain has been completely eliminated, and her overall health is much improved and she enjoys a quality of life she once thought was lost. She sincerely believes that one day her disease will be in complete remission with additional stem cell treatments.
Because she was fortunate enough to find her way back to a healthy life through placental stem cell therapy, she is now working full-time assisting other patients who are desperate for a solution. "Stem cell therapy is about the greater good of humanity," says Alexander. "We must acquire the funding to immediately begin clinical trials so we can bring a solution to the United States, and I'm determined to find it. It's shameful that the quality of our healthcare and our treatment options are determined by an extremely restrictive regulatory environment that keeps an increasing number of our nation's citizens shackled by diseases that could be cured or at least significantly improved through stem cell treatment."
In November 2008, Rita sold her house in Atlanta and is in the process of moving to San Diego--the epicenter for the biotech industry (especially for stem cell research)--to open corporate headquarters for International Stem Cell Institute (ISCI). Her goal is to help patients access stem cell treatment using placental stem cells already available at the clinic in which she received treatment in Mexico. The physician administering the stem cell treatments was trained by a physician in Europe where placental treatments have been done for 25 years. There are very few clinics anywhere in the world that have actually been administering stem cell treatments to patients for almost two decades.
"The astounding benefits to the patients we've worked with continue to amaze me," says Ms. Alexander. "It's positively life altering for the patient and their families and we are in a continual state of celebration."
Upon returning from her visit to the clinic in Mexico in March, Rita reports that two unrelated families brought their little boys to the clinic. Both 6-year-old Cody, and 16-month-old Brodie have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Within 24 hours of receiving stem cell treatment both boys were delighting their parents with positive behavior that they were unable to perform before the treatment. "When this occurs," says Rita, "the placebo effect is not a possible explanation for their improvement. A 16-month-old doesn't know he's received a stem cell treatment and that he should hold his bottle for the first time. We experience miracles almost every day at the clinic."
A treatment in China and other clinics can cost more than $40,000 and does not include the expense of travel and long-term stays. The results may not even be as effective as those of placenta stem cell treatments. The cost of a placenta treatment through ISCI is $9,950.