Créditos de imagem: Greg Dunn.

Stem cell injection into the neural tube, from the head to the lower spine, was probably developed by the Chinese in the years around 2000-2010, simultaneous with the stem cell craze that spread around the world and was very intense in Japan and South Chorea. The Americans and Europeans never believed the work of the Chinese, especially in relation to Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, for a large number of very real scientific and technical details. I examined a patient who had been there and it was clear he received sham injections. But they invited to the USA the main Chinese provider of the stem cell injection treatment, at a time when many people from all over the world were going there.

The Americans established a group of top universities coordinated by the Department of Neurology at Emory University and ran an FDA-approved trial of their version of the Chinese treatment. The procedure was to prepare in the laboratory adipose tissue stem cells from each patient, and inject them in previously determined sites in the neural tube. The patients were followed while maintained on intense, continuous, oral imune suppression. The study was finished when investigators realized the treatment had no effect. It was a complicated study, with both medical and  operational hazard. Except in a few cases where the effect appeared much more related to the imune suppression than with the stem cells.

The same model of treatment has been offered at a number of clinics in the USA and abroad. One of the complications was recently reported in detail by the Cleveland Clinic ( Bryan S Lee et al Neurology 2018, 90:613-615). A 58-year old man with cerebral infarcts underwent intravenous autologous stem cell injection in Phoenix, Arizona, and intrathecal stem cell injection in Moscow. These were embryonic, fetal, neuronal cells. In the 2 years after the embryonic stem cell injection the patient developed progressive weakness of the lower limbs and became wheelchair dependent. At the Cleveland Clinic MRI showed diffuse enlargement of spinal roots from midthoracic to lumbar level. L2-3 laminectomy was carried out and biopsy showed low grade fibrillary astrocytic tissue with ocasional mature neurons and no evidence of mitotic, proliferative or necrotic activity. Very complex DNA analysis showed the patient had received his own as well as somebody else’s stem cells. The investigators concluded that after stem cell injection the pluripotent embryonic cells adhered to spinal roots and to the spinal cord itself, and under local signalling, developed in this manner.

The patient had partial recovery of his paraplegia, with rehabilitation and radiation therapy.

Dr Paulo Bittencourt

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