Stem cell therapy is the key to treating cancer in the future
Stem cell therapy may have been put into bad light in the country recently, but most doctors believe that it is the key to treating cancer in the future.
With clinics and even beauty salons offering this service, claiming to cure disorders and prevent aging, it is hard to know how the medication really works.
“The problem with stem cell therapy is it has been abused… It has been peddled at every street, corner and beauty center,” said Dr. Benedict Valdecañas, an orthopedic surgeon and sports and regenerative medicine specialist. Learning about it should be evidence-based just like any other medication, he added.
Cell therapy is the use of healthy cells or its components to cure sick and damaged cells. Aesthetic surgeon and preventive wellness expert Dr. Rea Flores-Trinidad said it is going back to the basic unit of the body—the cell—to treat diseases.
Trinidad explained that during the human growth phase, there is a predominance of cell survival or division.
But eventually, there will be a tip on the balance. There will come a point when cell generation balances with cell death, stagnating growth, she said. “Then there will be more cell death than survival… that’s what you call aging.”
Cell death is caused by free radicals from radiation, smoking, pollution and sunlight and people can be exposed to these at an early age. At 25, because of the cell growth imbalance, aging starts.
Exposure to free radicals
However, Trinidad said that exposure to these free radicals, even before 25, can cause premature aging.
Valdecañas said regeneration slows down when a person crosses the golden age, even if supplied with everything he/she needs.
Doctors have become part of the problem, he said. “We have been discouraging our patients to take supplements in the past. No matter how well-balanced your diet is, your body can’t get all it needs.”
So how do we protect our cells? We do it through cell therapy, Valdecañas said. Cell therapy comes in three modes: stem cell implantation, injectables and, the newest, oral ingestion.
Celergen, an orally ingested stem cell therapy, is now made available in the country by Avita Philippines. it is the first and only marine oral cell therapy in the market.
Valdecañas said: “We want to regenerate because we want to generate cells… We are trying to heal them from the cause of the illness. Most of them, if not all, are lifestyle diseases, which can be prevented.”
Gone are the days when infusing stem cells are just for revitalization and antiaging, he added.
Most researchers believe cell therapy is the future of cancer therapy, he said. “Leukemia, for example, is treated by bone marrow transplantation. It’s basically replacing your bone marrow with normal cells.”
This, however, can only be done at laboratories where the exchange can be done only through a virus without harming it.
“The thing is that this is a hit-or-miss kind of experimentation because you can’t get the bigger population. The easiest way to study it is to make it more convenient for patients… and what could be more convenient than to take it as an oral ingestion,” he said.
Trinidad, on the other hand, noted a study on stem cell therapy conducted by 10 Italian doctors, which concluded that it can stop liver cancer cells from growing.
“I’m not saying that Celergen is a cure for cancer but it has very promising results,” she said
At present, stem cell therapy and technology in the country is being handled by the National Kidney and Transplant Institute. It also certifies clinics offering stem cell therapy.
“But conscientious physicians would discourage you to have stem cell therapy unless certified by this body or you have the indication for the infusion itself,” Valdecañas said.
Overall, the people’s knowledge toward cell therapy is very important. “It’s a matter of educating the public on what cell therapy is and how it works. If they know, they’re already equipped to choose the proper doctor and the clinic where they have to go,” Trinidad said.
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