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should I get stem cell transplants in russia

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    should I get stem cell transplants in russia

    hi, my name is jenifer. i have a spinal cord injury. i'm very interested in stem cell research. in your site i found a doctor in russia perforning stem cell procedure via lumbar puncture. his name is victor seledtsov. he was rated 5 stars. i'm seriously considering the procedure. i want to know your opinion. is it worth it?
    While I do not know Victor Seledtsov, I have looked at a number of reports of stem cell transplants being done in Russia. On, I have commented extensively on the fact that stem cells have not yet been shown to restore function in chronic spinal cord injury in any animal studies to date. So far, I am not impressed with the results of the fetal tissue transplant studies (in Florida, Sweden, Russia, and China). The Diacrin trial (using pig fetal stem cells) also is not showing very much improvement in the patients so far. I am not convinced that any of the procedures being done at Russia are restoring function to people beyond what they would get from decompression and untethering. All the above does not mean that I don't think that stem cell therapies are important and will be useful. I simply don't think that anybody has yet hit on the proper combination of appropriate types of stem cells, transplantation route, and combination therapy with the cells to restore function.

    I do have several major concerns with having stem cell transplants done in Russia.
    • Risk of infection. As you may know, they are obtaining the stem cells from aborted fetuses. I do not know how they are ruling out viral infections (AIDS, hepatitis, and other viruses). To date, I have not heard that these centers are implementing the kind of quality control that would rule out such infections coming from the transplanted cells. Combined with immunosuppression and possibly poor post-operative care, I think that this risk is real and therefore unacceptable.
    • Immunosuppression. The cells are coming from fetuses that may not be immunologically compatible with you. Many of the centers are not immunosuppressing the patients, increasing the likelihood that the cells will be rejected. It would of course not be good if the cells are rejected, which I suspect they are, since most of the Russian centers do not seem to be immunosuppressing their patients and have not conducted high-resolution MRI studies of their transplanted patients to show that the transplants are surviving. If the centers are using immunosuppression, there are risks of getting infections and it is important that you are in a place where you can get appropriate care if you get a life-threatening bladder or other kind of infection.
    • Stem cell cultures. Isolation of stem cells is not simple nor consistent. Even in animals, you do not get 100% stem cells every time. Russia does not, to my knowledge, possess the kind of expertise that exist in other countries regarding stem cell isolation and cultures. I understand that that at least one center in Moscow is using techniques developed by Evan Snyder for the isolation of stem cells but I worry about the quality of the cultures, whether they have actually isolated stem cells, and the consistency of such cultures.

    I recommend that you wait a year before making the decision. Stem cell transplantation is a very young technology and there is too much that we do not know about stem cells. Just because a Russian doctor says that he has stem cells does not mean that he actually has stem cells. There is also virtually no reliable data that is coming from Russia regarding the successes and, more important, failures of the procedures. I also want to point out to you that we should soon have ways of obtaining adult stem cells (from bone marrow) that should substantially reduce some of the risks that I refer to above. Finally, in my opinion, the data to date with stem cell transplants suggest that they alone will not be sufficient. The stem cells probably must be combined with some other therapy in order to produce functional regeneration and recovery. I think that the field is progressively rapidly enough that we should know a lot more in a year whether or not fetal stem cells should be transplanted to humans without immunosuppression.

    Please have a happy holiday. By the way, I am posting part of your question and my answer on the CareCure Forum (without your email address... in case you don't want that to be public) because you are voicing a question that many people are thinking. I will continue posting as much as I can find out on this issue on the forums. Please have a Merry and Happy New Year.


    Dr. Young: I'd like your opinion on how important you think it would be to have a "cleanup" done of your damaged cord BEFORE taking Neurotrofin or any other pills that are in the pipeline.

    I suspect that having cysts, scar tissue, etc would be yet another barrier to getting full benefit from any pharmaceutical products that are coming. (or stem cells or anything else)

    Also: after getting a decompression & "cleanup" of your cord, how likely is it that new scar tissue & cysts will form again? Will this be a recurring problem?
    "Oh yeah life goes on
    Long after the thrill of livin is gone"

    John Cougar Mellencamp


      mkowalski99, scar formation often happens after surgery. I consider it one of the most important impediments to surgery of chronic spinal cord injury and therefore would like to see more research carried out on this subject. I think that it is one of the main reasons why many surgeons are unwilling to operate unless there is a progressive neurological deficits. There is no simple answer to your question. Wise.


        Dear Dr. Young,

        First I'd like to thank you for all the things that you do for the people with SCI. By now I'm the only user from Bulgaria in the CareCure forum but this doesn't mean that I'm the only one who uses the info from it.

        About 8 months ago, me and my father searched the WEB for a cure in Russia. This country is much closer and affordable for me as an eventual place to go than Equador, USA, China, Mexico, etc.

        I'd like to say what I've found there. All sites has English Versions.

        1. Novosibirsk Center for Immunoterapy and Transplantation - - from there is Victor I. Seledsov (Doctor in Med. Sciences, Head, Immunohematologic Department). By the way what does it means - "he was rated 5 stars". On this site are published the results of the treatment of 15 SCI patients after treatment with fetal cells. But this site is not updated at all (for a long time now, similar to the site in Mexico
        that's not updated too!!!).

        2. Moscow International scientific research program. Cell Transplantation Surgery and Tissue Engineering in Brain Diseases and Traumas - .
        This program is joint-venture with Sovereign - Switzerland. On this site is mentioned a price for an operation with cell transplantation ~$2500 (it's too cheap isn't it?!?).

        3. St. Petersburg Functional Neurosurgery and Neurology Clinic - - in the site there is no published information about cells transplantation but I know from friends that there are made such operations.

        4. Kiev (it's in Ukraine not Russia) - - this site has only english version (funny isn't it?!? - if anyone doesn't get it I can explain). This is the most often updated web-site (except "the notices of the patients").

        "During a 10-year period of clinical studies of ESCT medicinal effects, our experts headed by Prof. Alexander Smikodub have performed almost 1,500 transplantations in a wide range of diseases (diabetes, tumors, diseases of blood, joints, bowel; injuries and diseases of nervous system, diseases of connective tissue and immune system, including AIDS, chronic infections, sepsis) and conditions (premature aging, climax in male and female, involution and asthenic syndromes, cachexia etc.).
        We have been using various kinds of Embryonic Stem Cells, such as hematopoietic, nervous, thymic, muscular, cutaneous, etc. Each specific type of Stem Cells has its own special effect. The best results have been achieved through the sophisticated use of various kinds of Embryonic Stem Cells, depending on the mechanisms of certain diseases, phases of their progress, etc."
        - Information from their web site.

        In the end Dr. Young I completely agree with you about Russia Stem Cells Transplantations.

        Everyone who is interested in this topic can write me an email:
        Vlady G