Approach stem cell therapy with caution, doctors say
Stem cell therapy has been building quite the reputation as a costly but groundbreaking medical procedure that promises to restore youth and revitalize those who choose to undergo treatment.
However, doctors from the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) and the Department of Health (DOH) have advised the public to be careful about choosing where to go for therapy.
“Ang proseso nito talagang mabusisi at professional dapat ang gumagawa nito, at dapat sa malaking medical center lang,” molecular biologist and stem cell therapy expert Dr. Sam Bernal said in an interview Friday with Susan Enriquez on GMA News’ “Unang Hirit.”
Likewise, in a report on GMA News TV’s “Balitanghali” on July 9, PMA vice-president Dr. Leo Olarte said “kailangan ay pumunta ka diyan sa kilalang doctor or kilalang hospital which is known for honesty, competence, credibility.”
Bernal explained that human organs originated from stem cells.
“Lahat ng mga organs natin, pinagmulan nito ang stem cell,” he said.
With stem cell therapy, doctors take cells from a patient or a compatible donor, culture it to work according to the patient’s purpose, and inject it into the patient’s body, Bernal said.
In the case of cancer treatment for instance, Bernal explained that scientists can engineer the stem cells to kill the cancer cells.
”Nagsisimula ang cancer ‘pag hindi nahagilap ng ating depensa ‘yung mutant na cellula. Pero ‘pag kumuha ka ng stem cell, pwede mo ma-engineer ito na makita niya kung ano ‘yung complications ng cancer na ito, hanapin niya, tapos patayin,” he said.
Stem cell task force
Meanwhile, DOH secretary Enrique Ona said that while the treatment grows increasingly popular, he has formed a task force to create guidelines on the administration of stem cell therapy and other advanced treatments.
“The DOH is mandated to protect the public by ensuring that only safe and ethical use of stem cells are being used especially here in the Philippines,” said Ona at the launch of Medical City’s Institute for Personalized Molecular Medicine earlier this month.
Ona also noted that only stem cells from human bone marrow, human peripheral blood, and human umbilical cords are safe, and that stem cells prepared from other sources still need to be assessed, and are therefore very risky.
“We already know today that the safest and most effective cellular preparations are those that use the patients’ own cells – called autologous human cells… Their safety and efficacy [are] well established especially those derived from the bone marrow and peripheral blood. Umbilical cord stem cells also have a long track record of safety and efficacy,” Ona said.
“In the meantime, the public should be careful about receiving cell preparations that are being offered in the Philippines and elsewhere, such as embryonic, aborted fetal, genetically altered and especially animal stem cells,” he added.
Enrile and Erap had stem cell therapy
Several prominent politicians have been linked to stem cell therapy, including former president Joseph Estrada, Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile—both of whom have undergone stem cell therapy—and most recently, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who has yet to receive treatment after being advised to do so by her doctors.
Estrada shared that the stem cell therapy, which he received in March this year in Frankfurt, Germany, made him feel young.
“I saw that ’yung stem cell is good for the health and rejuvenation and it turned out to be good. I feel young and ‘yung memory will become clear, ‘yung katawan mo gagaan,” he said in a separate report on GMA News TV’s “Balitanghali” Friday.
According to the report, Estrada needed 14 sessions to complete the stem cell procedure.
“Kung kailangan, ‘pag nag-fade out na, pwedeng ulitin. Kahit na you’re an ordinary person, as long as you want to be healthy, look young, go,” Estrada added.
On the other hand, Senate president Enrile, who impressed the public with his sharp mind and memory at the Corona impeachment trial earlier this year, said that he did not feel the effects of the stem cell procedure.
“Nagpa-stem cell ako pero hindi ko alam kung nakatulong sa akin o hindi dahil ‘yung condition ng katawan ko nung bago ako magpa-stem-cell ay ganun pa rin ang kalidad o kondisyon ng katawan ko ngayon,” Enrile said. –KG, GMA News
Talk of the web