Using Stem Cells to treat macular degneration!

There has been quite a bit of interest in the use of stem cell therapy to treat Macular Degeneration and other health problems. There has also been a lot of misinformation and controversy regarding stem cells and the sources for obtaining these cells. My interest was stimulated several months ago when Dr. Robert Rowen shared with me his father’s very positive experience in having his Macular Degeneration treated with stem cell therapy. Shortly after that, I also spoke with David Steenblock, M.D., the author of the book called Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Therapy. This research has led me to the conclusion that stem cells certainly can be beneficial in the treatment of Macular Degeneration and that microcurrent stimulation can be an important ancillary tool in insuring the success of the stem cell transplantation.

Dr. Steenblock has made great advancements in the treatment of Macular Degeneration through stem cell therapy and I am happy to announce that I will be working with him to administer stem cell therapy, for the treatment of Macular Degeneration, in my Cave Creek Office beginning Tuesday, September 7, 2010.

With so much controversy and general misunderstanding about stem cell therapy, I feel an obligation to offer some basic information:

First, it is important to understand what a stem cell is. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that have the potential to help repair and replace tissue anywhere in the body. These cells also have the potential to grow into specific body parts. Stem cells initially differentiate into three types of cells, (1) the Ectoderm (skin, neurological tissue and the eye), (2) the Mesoderm (muscle, bone and heart) and (3) the Endoderm (lining of the gut and internal organs). After that initial differentiation, these types of cells then further develop into specific types of tissue.

Next, it helps to understand how stem cells work. Stem cells are constantly at work helping the body repair itself after injury, stress and disease. One way this takes place is when hypoxic tissue (tissue with low oxygen and inflammation) attracts stem cells. The stem cells begin replicating the specific cells in that area to aid the damaged tissue in repair. For example, when you sustain a cut, stem cells play a role in helping the tissue to regenerate. Another example is a salamander that has a limb amputated; that limb has the ability to regenerate because of stem cells. In order for stem cells to work, they must be in an undifferentiated state to evolve into the specific tissue that is needed. Once stem cells develop into a specific tissue, they cannot go backwards. This is a reason why doctors are using undifferentiated stem cells; they have the greatest regenerative potential.
Finally, I would like to talk about various sources of stem cells. There are four main types of stem cells that are currently being used. 

*The most common type of stem cell, and the first to be used, is called an Allogenic Stem Cell. “Allo” means “other” and these are stem cells taken from one individual’s (donor) bone marrow and then transplanted into another person (recipient). This type of transplantation was first used in the treatment of leukemia, but it was necessary to carefully match the tissue from the donor to that of the recipient in order to help prevent rejection.

*The second type is Autogenic Stem Cells. “Auto” means “self” and these stem cells are taken from the person’s own body commonly from bone marrow, blood, or fat cells. These stem cells are then treated, processed and then injected back into the same person. The goal is to have these concentrated stem cells work on repairing diseased or damaged tissue.

*The third type is Human Cord Stem Cells or HCSC. These are stem cells that are taken from an umbilical cord immediately after birth. These cells are extremely active and have a very low incidence of rejection. Unfortunately, they are only approved by the FDA for cases of leukemia and blood disorders. Patients are receiving HCSC, for the treatment of other disorders, in clinics overseas and in Mexico. Dr. Steenblock, and other specialists in this field, feel that when Autogenic Stem Cells are of poor quality this option should be considered.

*The fourth type, and the most controversial, is Embryonic Stem Cells. These are cells that are removed from an aborted fetus and currently outlawed in the United States.

There are several keys for successful stem cell therapy. Just like when a farmer plants seeds in a field, certain conditions must exist for the seeds to grow and thrive. Stem cells need a specific environment in which to regenerate. Many of these keys to success are the same ones that I have observed to improve the results of microcurrent therapy.

*Proper diet is essential! I recommend maintaining an all organic (largely raw) diet and eliminating genetically modified organisms (GMO foods), gluten, dairy, coffee and alcoholic beverages, especially during the first several weeks after stem cell therapy has been initiated.

*Patients need to reduce the toxic load in their body. Any heavy metals in the body must first be treated. Heavy metals may interfere with the replication of stem cells and therefore hamper the success of the stem cell therapy.

*Proper oxygenation is essential for cell growth. Oxygen saturation is measured in each person and if the saturation is reduced, supplemental oxygen will likely be needed.

*Any chronic infections must be eliminated. Stem cells tend to migrate to areas of inflammation and infection. Dr. Steenblock has observed that 50% of Macular Degeneration patients who do not respond well to stem cell therapy have chronic sinus infections. All patients with Macular Degeneration, interested in undergoing stem cell therapy at my office, must first undergo a CT scan of sinuses to rule out infection.

There are four methods that have been developed to administer stem cells in patients with Macular Degeneration and other diseases. 

*The most commonly used method is intravenous, into the blood stream, through a catheter in the patient’s arm. This method is preferred by Dr. Steenblock and he has used it to treat about 50 patients with Macular Degeneration. Most commonly, Autogenic Stem Cells (cells from the patient receiving the stem cell therapy) or Human Cord Stem Cells (HCSC) are used for this method of administering stem cell therapy.

*The second method commonly used for administering stem cell therapy is a retrobulbar injection. A retrobulbar injection is a very common type of injection used in ophthalmology and is delivered in the area under the eye (not in the eye) near the area of the macula. This method of administering stem cell therapy is preferred by the Xcell Center in Germany. I plan to visit the Xcell Center in Germany, in September, to learn more about this technique.

*The last method being used to administer stem cell therapy, for the treatment of Macular Degeneration, is an intraocular injection directly into the eye. This is the method currently being used by retinal doctors when they inject Avastin or Lucentis into the eye for the treatment of Wet Macular Degeneration. The benefit is a higher concentration of stems cells near the macular. This method is a technique being further developed by Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company. They are working on a stem cell membrane that can be surgically implanted on the area of the Macula.

Research articles on stem cells in the treatment of macular degeneration
Article using microcurrent to increase the activity of stem cells


Click here to view Dr. Kondrot’s lecture on stem cells!
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