Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, February 06, 2017

Beware Medical Tourism Charlatans

"We have seen that patients actually start improving clinically -- they become almost at par for their age."
"[The infant receiving embryonic stem cells injected into muscles and bloodstream had] delayed milestones, lack of speech, subnormal understanding and subnormal motor skills."
"The child became almost as near normal as possible cognitively [now at three years of age]. He's talking; he's walking. He was at par with normal children on analysis."
Geeta Shroff, medical director, Nutech Mediworld

“As far as we know, it’s the first time that stem cells have been used to treat Down’s syndrome."
"He [3-month-old infant patient] started babbling and crawling, and his facial features underwent a change. He continues to develop age-appropriate skills."
"Stem cells have an innate ability to repair and regenerate, and that is how the baby’s condition improved,."
Jyoti Titus, manager, Nutech Mediworld clinic, New Delhi, India

"There’s no obvious way in which this treatment would have worked. [To have any effect, neural stem cells would need to be injected into the brain]."
"I expect the most likely outcome of the injections would have been that they were recognised as foreign and eliminated by the immune system."
Victor Tybulewicz, Francis Crick Institute, London

"There’s no comparison to similar individuals with Down’s syndrome, and no indication this therapy had any effect whatsoever, so the author has no basis at all for saying the injections were beneficial."                                                           Elizabeth Fisher, University College, London.

"The use of these cells does not make biological sense and may place the babies at considerable risk of side effects."
John Rasko, International Society for Cellular Therapy


Down's syndrome is recognized as one of the most common chromosomal disorders seen globally; where the syndrome is generally a result of a random error in cell division. Three copies of chromosome 21 results, rather than the usual two apportioned to each human being during fetal development. There is no 'cure' for the syndrome. There are various manifestations of it, varying in different people, from relatively moderate to severe. Down's syndrome children generally become adept at learning lifeskills and become fairly capable of living a life as close to normal as possible.

Now, a clinic in New Delhi is lauding its ability to help paralyzed people walk again, as well as promising that with injections of stem cells it can alter a multitude of life-limiting impacts on the human body from inherited or acquired complications. Children with Down's syndrome are also on their 'help-line' list where their special, trademarked injections can make them "almost near normal". It has already given treatment to 15 newborns, toddlers and older children with Down's, they crow.

Experts believe otherwise, and view this outfit as a threat to the well-being of those they claim to be aiding. They deplore the fact that Nutech Mediworld of New Delhi, India has gone about raising expectations with no foundation in medical scientific research and evaluation, let alone a stamp of official approval from any government or medical-scientific regulatory source. Yet this clinic is only one among many which have cropped up internationally, seeking profit to be made by posing as a legitimate source of medical expertise in the emerging era of stem-cell medicine.

According to the clinic's public relations outreach it has treated incurable conditions such as spinal cord injury and cerebral palsy. Treatment at the clinic runs around $48,000 for a bout that is advertised capable of solving the unsolvable. Yet Dr. Shroff, at one time a practising infertility specialist, claims that some of her patients have regained mobility, able to walk with the help of walkers.  And she insists that human embryonic stem cells directly injected into a child's muscles and bloodstream function to regenerate and repair the damaged brain in Down's syndrome.

She points to her published report in New Scientist, in treating a two-month-old infant diagnosed with Down's at birth. Two stem cell therapy sessions succeeded in altering the baby's state to a remarkable degree. He was seen to have improved muscle tone, he began babbling and crawling "He was social and was able to recognize near ones", she insists. And three years on, he is now near-normal, proving that her protocol works efficiently and positively.

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