View Full Version : Medical Minute 11-6: Risking It All On Stem Cells

11-10-2009, 12:39 PM
Medical Minute 11-6: Risking It All On Stem Cells

It's been called the next big thing in medicine, but stem cell treatment is still in its infancy. Some patients say they don't have time to wait for the studies, so they're ready to risk it all on a controversial transplant. But is that a good idea?
One Florida cardiologist claims to do what no one else can.
"We're able to increase heart function in patients who suffered major heart attacks," said Zannos Grekos, M.D. Director Cardiac and Vascular Service.
Doctor Grekos is the man behind a stem cell therapy that has patients and their cells flying around the world.
First, the patient's blood is sent to an Israeli lab. There, Doctor Grekos says scientists extract, grow and activate stem cells t hat target specific organs.
"We grow them in a special culture medium that includes growth factors that tell the stem cell what to become," he said.
For $64,000, patients meet up with their stem cells in the Dominican Republic and have a transplant that is not approved in the U.S.
"That tends to be the case with the U.S. and the FDA: Many things lag behind," said Zannos Grekos, M.D.
"This is not even off-label, and unfortunately it's not even experimental. These patients are being charged an enormous amount of money for a therapy that's unproven," said Cam Patterson, M.D., Director of Cardiology UNC Chapel Hill, N.C.
Howard Lindeman says the proof is how he feels. He has coronary artery disease.
The recording engineer who toured the world with the rich and famous was out of options. Six months after surgery, tests from Doctor Grekos show his heart's pumping capacity went from 39% to 62%.
"Keep in mind that the placebo effect is very powerful," said Cam Patterson, M.D.
The I-S-S-C-R warns patients to look out for stem cells that treat multiple conditions, high costs and no clear studies or documents showing results.
"When we collect all our data and have compiled it, we are going to pursue FDA trials," said Zannos Grekos, M.D.
"It's a scam. I don't see any other way to characterize this," said Cam Patterson, M.D.
A treatment ahead of its time, or too good to be true? While doctors debate, some patients take their health into their own hands.
For more information: Ivanhoe Broadcast News2745 W. Fairbanks Ave.Winter Park, FL 32789 http://www.ivanhoe.com Melissa Medalie, Supervising Producer Medical News mmedalie@ivanhoe.com Direct Line: (407) 691-1516Viewer Line: (407) 740-0789 ext. 579

11-10-2009, 03:53 PM
Cam Patterson, M.D. seems to still be in the dark ages. I agree that $64000 is a lot of money, out of the reach for many in fact which is a sad aspect of all of this, however, Jeannine was adding up costs today of a lung transplant and it came to over a million dollars. I hate to tell Cam but there are no guarantees with lung transplants either. Many do not even make it off the table. I am sure heart transplant patients face the same issues.

Instead of offering viable alternatives, Dr. Patterson is simply regurgitating the same old same old that many of us have heard so many times before that we want to put a sock in his mouth and use some duct tape to hold it in.

Until the U.S. can offer desperately ill people treatment or even the opportunity to join in an abundance of clinical trials, people will go offshore, like it or not, Dr. Patterson.

While we are preparing to spend over a trillion dollars to insure that everyone has health care insurance in this country, we are not insuring that everyone has access to treatments of their choice when they are terminally or chronically ill. Doctors like Dr. Patterson stand in our way.

While Dr. Grekos' treatment is expensive, there is no way I could characterize it as a scam or the placebo effect. The ISSCR is Big Pharma affiliated, so what credibility to the article does that add? None if you ask me. At some point, patient input has to be worth something. Not all patients will get the results that Lindeman did, but some will. That would be true with heart transplants as well. I just don't understand such negativity. I guess when it isn't his own life, Dr. Patterson feels free to impose his ideas on the rest of the world reducing the discussion down to a hoax or snake oil medicine for those that know no better.