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Thread: Dr. Grekos raked over the coals by CNN

  1. #1

    Default Dr. Grekos raked over the coals by CNN

    CNN is now raking Dr. Grekos over the coals. My best advice for the stem cell doctors out there is to not agree to interviews with CNN. Again, no alternatives are provided. A leading research doctor very seriously states that there is no such thing as "regenocytes" and yet Dr. Grekos simply stated that that is what his company calls the stem cell process he uses. Osiris named theirs Prochymal. I guess that's okay since their trial was in the U.S.

    The article in its entirety:

    By David Fitzpatrick and Drew Griffin
    CNN Special Investigations Unit

    SANTIAGO, Dominican Republic (CNN) -- This Caribbean city already known for cigars, furniture, chocolate and coffee may become a magnet for Americans seeking controversial stem cell therapy for life-threatening illnesses if a Florida cardiologist has his way.

    Dr. Zannos Grekos, a Florida cardiologist, says he's had success with stem-cell therapy in the Dominican Republic.

    The Food and Drug Administration has not approved this stem cell therapy in the United States because no clinical trials to prove its effectiveness have been done. But Dr. Zannos Grekos says his company, Regenocyte Therapeutic, has successfully used adult stem cells to treat patients with heart and lung disease.

    Grekos said he and his associates draw blood from a patient in Florida and then send it to a laboratory in Israel that produces what his company calls "regenocytes." The company defines regenocyte as "a stem cell that has been activated to become a target organ."

    "These procedures work," he told CNN, standing inside a hospital room at the Clinica Union Medica del Norte in Santiago. "And it's substantiated by objective data that we are collecting."

    But Grekos' procedures have not been reviewed by other researchers, and leading scientists involved in U.S. stem cell research efforts say Grekos is simply wrong. Dr. Irving Weissman, president-elect of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, told CNN, "There is no such cell. There is nothing called a 'regenocyte.' "

    "As a stem cell scientist who works in the field of regenerative stem cells, I am disappointed and shocked that somebody would prey on a family that has an untreatable disease with the promise of a therapy that has no scientific or medical basis," Weissman said.

    Grekos has a busy practice in Bonita Springs, Florida, outside Naples, and runs a company that promotes and administers stem cell therapies in Santiago, a noisy, crowded industrial city in the central Dominican Republic.

    He told CNN that in the past 18 months, about 100 patients have received adult stem cell therapy at a Dominican hospital. Most of them have been patients with severe heart disease, while the rest have suffered from chronic lung illnesses, he said.

    He said the Israeli laboratories can produce between 40 million and 80 million stem cells from a patient's blood sample.

    "Then they also activate them and educate them to become the end organ to any tissues we are looking to regenerate," Grekos said.

    Grekos said he makes no promise of results to his patients. He is collecting data from his procedures and has been in contact with a Florida hospital to independently review his findings, but that hasn't happened yet, he said.

    He said he wants to present his data to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of 2009, then ask the federal agency to accelerate its approval process.

    But Weissman said the FDA will not accept data from a physician if the doctor has a financial interest in the outcome. "It is simply not done," he said.

    The procedure is costly. Grekos said he charges $64,500 -- none of it covered by insurance. He said the cost is driven by the expense of processing the stem cells, and providing clean rooms and couriers who hand-carry the cells to Israel and back.
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    A year ago, Barbara McKean of Naples, Florida, paid Regenocyte Therapeutic more than $54,000 for stem cell therapy in the Dominican Republic after suffering from chronic lung disease. She said she believes the therapy was worth the expense.

    "Right away, the next morning, I felt a sense of well-being that I hadn't felt in a long, long time," McKean said.

    "I know that I am living proof that this does work," she added. "I know that."

    McKean's family physician, Dr. Robert Folsom, confirmed to CNN that she had been suffering for many years from an advanced state of COPD, an incurable lung disease. Folsom told CNN he was "quite incredulous" after seeing her condition improve.

    The chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, Dr. Norman Edelman, said he does not doubt the sincerity of patients who believe they have been helped by stem cell therapy. But he added, "There's an enormous placebo effect in almost all of these cases."

    "I have looked for the scientific efficacy of this approach, and can find none," Edelman said.
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    Folsom, who said he has been McKean's family physician for many years, disputed any suggestion that her apparent recovery stemmed from a "placebo effect" -- an improvement sometimes seen in patients who are given an inert substance in clinical trials.

    "I know about the placebo effect, and her improvement does not seem to be a result of that," he said.

    Grekos said his patients "are getting better" under his treatment, but he has not yet applied for clinical trials in the United States because of the high cost. He shrugs off the criticism from people who doubt his claims, saying he -- and not they -- are on medicine's cutting edge.

    Stem cell experts who reject his methods "need to be better educated," he said.
    Last edited by barbara; 07-25-2009 at 01:29 PM.
    First treatment in 2007. Pioneering ever since.


  2. #2


    Well, I know that there are people on this forum singing his praises, and I really don't want to stir anything up, but....

    Perhaps charging $64,500 for a stem cell treatment is generating some "bad Kharma" here? I have always found, and still find this amount of money to be far more than exorbitant. Having paid about 1/2 of this for the same treatment to the same lab, I feel that I am entitled to say that. Holding seminars in hotels to attract rich, sick people in Florida is not something that a normal cardiologist would do. This is preying on the misfortunes of sick people with money, plain and simple. I find nothing humanitarian in this, nothing whatsoever.

    Again, I have had the identical treatment from the Israel lab, so I can say this, and I would say it even if it had helped me, which it did not.

    Now, as for his claims that:

    ""...they also activate them and educate them (stem cells) to become the end organ to any tissues we are looking to regenerate..."

    I would need some serious elaboration of this in the presence of a cellular biologist. I have trouble believing it, but then, I could be wrong.

    As for Dr. Grekos pushing for FDA approval for his treatments, this would largely devalue his $64,500 per treatment fee, so I doubt that he is pushing for approval in any way. Again, I am happy to be wrong.
    4 Autologous treatments to date.


  3. #3


    I guess my point was where is the alternative? Evidently, we are expected to just sit home and die. CNN is not just bashing the high cost treatments, as they did a number on Dr. Feinerman too if you recall. His treatments are simply not that expensive. On the other hand, they fail to mention that a lung transplant is $300,000 to $400,000 not including the anti rejection medications that one will take for life if the transplant is a success. I am sure heart transplants are expensive as well. Having dealt with one of their investigative reporters, I can assure you that they know little or nothing about what they are writing.
    First treatment in 2007. Pioneering ever since.


  4. #4


    I am sure that what you are saying is true.
    I got sidetracked with my annoyance over $64,500 stem cell treatments.

    I am convinced that CNN does not offer accurate news reporting.
    Real news reporting is all but dead, these days.
    This is evidenced by the fact that about 70% of the total news
    on news channels has been dedicated to coverage of
    Michael Jackson for the past 2+ weeks!
    4 Autologous treatments to date.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Manila Philippines

    Default medical data

    Did the doctor of the woman treated by Dr. Grekos give CNN her clinical results such as the FEVs or anything that couldl prove improvement in the lung function of Ms. McKean? If Dr. Grekos' treatments really work he should have no problem supporting these with evidence.

  6. #6


    I guess I can say that I am disappointed and shocked that Dr. Weissman would present himself as an independent party working only for the good of mankind. What a farce.

    The article in its entirety:

    July 15, 2009

    MEDICAL-RESEARCH insiders know that embryonic-stem-cell technol ogy is proving a dead end -- Dr. Bernadine Healy, a former director of the National Institutes of Health and once an ES-cell-research enthusiast, calls it "obsolete." But the Obama administration has opened wide the federal funding floodgates -- the triumph of a big special-interest PR and lobbying campaign.

    In fact, the research will line the pockets of a relatively few individuals -- at considerable cost for the rest of us, since the funding means billions that won't go to more promising areas.

    Though ES cells have long been touted as the miracle just down the road, researchers keep driving into big potholes. For starters, there's the rejection problem: Your body naturally attacks foreign cells, even ones that might help you. So cell recipients must permanently use dangerous immunosuppressive drugs.

    Further, the cells have a nasty tendency to become cancerous or to form teratomas -- meaning "monster tumors." While usually benign, these can grow larger than a football and often contain hair and teeth. Yech!

    Perhaps that problem can be solved someday, but even University of Wisconsin scientist James Thomson, the creator of the first human ES-cell line, says treatments and cures could be decades away.

    Conversely, adult stem cells (AS cells, meaning any naturally found stem cell not from embryos), are far more controllable (that is, easier to direct to become the desired cell type) and have thus been saving lives for decades, via (for example) bone-marrow transplants. More recently, AS cells have treated illnesses including cancers, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, immunodeficiency disorders and neural degenerative diseases.

    Plus, AS cells are often "self-donated" -- eliminating rejection problems (though AS rejection even from outside donors has turned out to be relatively minimal).

    Researchers originally found promise in ES cells mainly because they thought only ES cells could be converted into all types of mature cells. But since 2002, dozens of published studies have shown the same can be done with a vast array of AS cells.

    Then, two years ago, scientists discovered how to make "induced pluripotent stem cells" from human-skin cells. These are just as flexible as embryonic ones -- but, as with AS cells, have neither the health drawbacks nor the moral problems associated with the embryonic variety.

    In short, other lines of inquiry are unquestionably far more promising than ES cells -- yet this research will now get a big funding boost. Why?

    Basically, the lobby for ES-cell research succeeded in shutting down critics (or even questions) by presenting the question as "medical progress versus pro-life politics" (as one Newsweek cover put it).

    The media, observes the Genetics & Society Center, consistently squeeze all reporting into a prefab story line of "scientists hoping to save lives versus opponents of abortion rights who see destroying stem cells as equivalent to taking a life."

    And it's a very wealthy lobby. Research funding can generate tremendous income with no treatments, because human and animal ES cells, and materials and techniques used to manipulate them, can all be patented. Licensing fees make them worth a fortune.

    One holder of many important ES-cell-research patents charges $75,000 to more than $250,000 per license, plus annual payments and royalties, The Wall Street Journal reports. "They clearly see this as the goose that lays the golden egg," an ES-cell researcher told the paper.

    All this drives what wheelchair-bound medical activist Jim Kelly calls "the embryonic-research economic juggernaut."

    The lobby displayed its awesome power in 2004 when backers of California's Proposition 71 outspent opponents by 60 to 1. The payoff: $3 billion shifted from taxpayer pockets to ES-cell researchers.

    As journalist Neil Munroe has documented, researchers who cash in routinely present themselves -- with enthusiastic media help -- as neutral parties. Best known is Dr. Irving Weissman, director of Stanford University's Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, a frequent critic of AS-cell research who's made millions from ES-cell patents. In 2004, he appeared in TV commercials pleading for a "YES" vote on Prop 71 as "an MD" who "took an oath that the very highest priority was the treatment of patients." Prop 71 now funds his institute.

    California's boondoggle has been the largest. But many states (including New Jersey, New York and Connecticut) now fund ES-cell research, and the feds -- pushed by the same powerful lobby -- will now spend extravagantly.

    "There's a lot of pressure to give ES researchers what they want," says David Hess, a neurologist at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. But "everybody is fighting over the same pie" -- a dime spent on dead-end ES work is a dime unavailable for research, stem cell or otherwise, with true promise to heal the sick.

    "People are dying, and they're going to continue to die, and people are paralyzed and will continue to stay paralyzed," says Jim Kelly, "all of them a victim of the embryonic-research economic juggernaut."

    Michael Fumento directs the Independent Journalism Project, where he specializes in science issues.
    Last edited by barbara; 07-25-2009 at 01:30 PM.
    First treatment in 2007. Pioneering ever since.


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