Traveling for Stem Cells

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - 10:51am

Americans are going abroad for cutting-edge treatments not yet approved in the U.S.

What if you could take cells from the fat on your body and cure whatever ails you?

Some Americans say they are doing just that, but not in this country.

They're flying to places like Panama and Costa Rica to take part in cutting edge experimental treatments with dramatic results.

Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 14 years ago, Judi LeCoq was forced to shut down the catering company she shared with her husband.

Desperate to stop the progression of the disease, she checked into the stem cell institute in Panama for a month for adipose stem cell treatments.

Stem cells are pulled from the fat and put back into the body through an I-V.

LeCoq also received stem cells from the blood of umbilical cords.

"Those would be delivered to me in my spine. It sounds terrible, but it really wasn't bad. You get a little injection of local anesthesia and those stem cells would go to the nerves, where with MS, the nerves are damaged," she explains.

She's now walking again.

Preston Walker, a Fort Worth police officer who also has MS, had a similar treatment in Costa Rica.

He says his balance is now restored.

Dr. Spencer Brown, Director of Research at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, studies this fast moving field.

He says it's not yet known how long or how well the treatments work.

"The push is to get that data, learn what happens, what do these stem cells do? Are they safe? If they are injected into the spine or into the blood, do they go where they are supposed to? Do they do what they are supposed to do, or do they just go away?" he says.

That's also what the Food and Drug Administration is waiting on.

The experimental therapies are also treating parkinson's disease, cancer, arthritis and celiac disease, among others.
 

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