Stem cell therapy: proffering hope for special needs patients … – BusinessDay (satire) (press release) (registration) (blog)

By JoanneRUSSELL25

Hope is surely on the way for children with special needs as Alok Sharma, a world renowned neurosurgeon, Neuroscientist and professor, a director of NeuroGen Brain and Spine Institute India visited Nigeria recently to shed light on the efficacy of stem cells in treating children with special needs.With over 5000 patients treated from 50 countries, 68 scientific papers and 14 published books, and an overall 91% success rate, Alok was determined to enlighten participants who attended the one day seminar on stem cell awareness and its importance.According to Asok, We are the pioneers of introduction to Stem Cell Therapy for neurological disorders. We make use of holistic, comprehensive approach to treat our patients with a combination of stem cell therapy and neuro-rehabilitation. We use adult stem cells derived from the patients own bone marrow, as they are the safest and most feasible type of cells. Since every patient is different, our treatment protocol is customised according to the patients requirements.We now have a treatment that is very effective and a large number of people can benefit from this. The old thinking was that when the central nervous system is damaged then it is beyond repairs but the new thinking is that some degree of repair is possible. Stem cells have three capabilities. They repair, regenerate or replaced. It took us between seven to eight years to prove that stem cells can convert to nerve cells and when we became very sure, we went on to use on humans and the results have been outstanding He said.Asked who can be treated with the stem cell procedure and Asok says for paediatric, we treat children with autism, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability and muscular dystrophy. For adults, we treat spinal cord injury, stroke, traumatic brain injury/head injury, motor neuro disease/amyotrophic lateral scierosis and other neurological disorders.Asok explains that there are many types of stem cells used, but broadly they can be classified into 3 types:-Embryonic stem cells: Embryonic stem cells, as their name suggests, are derived from 3-4 day embryos. These are obtained from spare embryos from IVF clinics with the consent of the donor. During this early developmental period, the cells that will ultimately give rise to the developing fetus can be encouraged to develop into tissues of different origins (totipotency) contributing greatly to stem cell therapy. However, there are many ethical and medical issues regarding its use. These are therefore, not being used presently.Umbilical cord stem cells: These cells are derived from the umbilical cord which connects the baby and the mother at birth. Stem cells derived from the umbilical cord are stored by various cord blood banking companies. These stem cells do not have any major ethical issues surrounding their usage, but availability can be a problem.Adult stem cells: They can be derived from the same patient, from either the hip bone or the adipose/fat tissue. Currently, they are the most popularly used stem cells. The benefits that adult stem cells offer are:1, They are available in abundance and can be isolated easily.2, They are isolated from patients, which overcomes the problem of immunological rejection.3, Adult stem cells have the potential to replenish many specialized cells from just a few unspecialized ones.4, They do not have any ethical issues as they do not involve destruction of embryos.5, The risk of tumor formation is greatly reduced as compared to the use of embryonic stem cells.There are fears about stem cell therapy but Asok cleared the air when he said this isnt the truth as the one feared is the embryonic stem cells (ESCs) which are stem cells derived from the undifferentiated inner mass cells of a human embryo. ESCs are just one of the types of stem cells but we do not make use of that in our hospital as explained earlier, we use Adult Stem Cells. We do not use the embryotic stem cells because they have the tendency to become tumours in the body. He explained.On how the procedure works, he says a thin needle is inserted into the hip bone to pull the marrow out. The procedure takes between 15 to 30 minutes. The patient is then sent back to the room for about 3 to 4 hours to rest for the next procedureon same day, within the 2 to 4 hours, the stem cells are separated and purified in their stem cell laboratory by using density gradient centrifugation. Once the stem cells have been purified, the patient is taken back to the operation theatre and the stem cells are injected into the spinal space. In some patients, for instance, patients with muscular dystrophy, the stem cells are diluted and injected into the muscles using a very thin needle.One of the participants at the seminar, Marvis Isokpehi, whose child is autistic, had this to say I am glad I came for this seminar. Initially, we were told anything that has to do with brain damage cannot be cured or improved only managed but we see that God helping the scientist, things are getting better. My child was diagnosed by 2. She walked at 17 months, sat at 8 months and she only babbled. She could use her hands and able to put things in her mouth herself but later, the growth began to drop and along the line, I took up the challenge and went back to school to learn about taking care of her and also to help others. I went to Federal College of Education (special) Oyo and specialised in Education for the intellectually disabled. Said Marvis.For Akhere Akran, the Manager of Agatha Obiageli Aghedo Memorial Foundation and participant, one of the arms of our foundation aimed at helping to lessen the burden of the less privileged in the community is the St Agatha Children Centre, where we advocate for children with special needs. I am glad I will be going back to let the parents of these children know there is hope and I am trusting God for funds because that is truly the core of everything. I appeal to the government to fund this and encourage private organisations to help reduce the cost of this treatment to the barest minimum. Its high time we stop stigmatisation or thinking its a result of the mothers past life of the fathers mistakes. It is a medical situation that needs medical attention. Akran expressed.Andelene Thysse is a director at Stem Cell Africa and she helped facilitate the seminar and for her, it is high time Nigeria gets involved We are currently looking at establishing a stem centre at Mozambique. I would have loved that we establish in Nigeria because Nigeria is closer to everything but since we arent getting the audience required, we are going to other African countries interested. Going to NeuroGen Institute for treatment per patient costs about $11,000 imagine if Nigeria has the facility, the price can slash down to $6,000 or even below Andelene stated.Shedding more light on costing, Asok says If we are to set up such a facility in an existing hospital, the cost of setting it up is $US500, 000 and I am assuming all facilities are functioning already. If we have to set up as a whole which includes getting land and building, it will be more expensive. This may sound expensive but it is worth it because it will save you the stress for the future. More important than the money is the permission from the government of the country. The government has to give us the permission because it is what is happening in other African countries. We have had good response and cooperation from government in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe. We have quite a number of Nigerians who come to us in India for this treatment. We treat 50 patients from around the world per week about 5-10 are from Africa and Nigeria is among this percentage.

Kemi Ajumobi

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Stem cell therapy: proffering hope for special needs patients ... - BusinessDay (satire) (press release) (registration) (blog)

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