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  • The Stem Cell 'Miracles'

    http://www.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-1209738,00.html




    Dr Geeta Shroff

    The Stem Cell 'Miracles'

    Updated: 12:43, Monday January 23, 2006

    A doctor in India is claiming she's the first to successfully treat patients with embryonic stem cells.

    She has around 150 patients who have terminal and incurable diseases - and insists ALL are now showing signs of improvement.

    Sky's Asia Correspondent Alex Crawford and her team are the first allowed to film the controversial clinic:

    "It looks an unlikely venue for a revolutionary treatment which could change the face of medicine worldwide.

    Down a dusty track, hidden behind rows of residential flats in south Delhi is a small private hospital.

    It looks the type of establishment you might think twice about visiting but inside is a doctor who may be - just may be - curing the incurable.

    Her name is Geeta Shroff and she is not happy.

    She has agreed to meet myself and the Sky Delhi producer Neville Lazarus but it has been done reluctantly. She has the air of someone who trusts few.

    But Dr Shroff believes an article publish after an interview she once gave to a British journalist aimed to make her out to be a quack, an uneducated woman who is 'experimenting' on some of the most vulnerable people around - patients who have no hope.

    All of the people who walk through her door have a death sentence hanging over them - and they know it.

    "But it is working," she says. "I have more than 150 patients and some have been entirely cured, 100%. It varies. Some are 50% better, some 15%, but they are all showing signs of improvement."

    It is a remarkable claim and said with such a nonchalance that you check yourself you've heard it correctly.

    "Are there any illnesses or diseases which haven't responded," I ask. "No" is the reply.

    Dr Shroff claims to have stumbled on a method of cultivating embryonic stem cells.


    Poonam Singh was bedridden


    She is secretive and vague about exactly how she has done it but she does say she used one discarded embryo left over from her IVF work - and with the consent of the parents - she tested, retested and worked on this embryo - using entirely human products - until she came up with a "limitless' supply of stem cells with which to treat patients.

    Among her 150 patients there are people suffering from Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cerebral palsy, Down's Syndrome, spinal injuries which have left them paralysed, motor neurone disease... the list is endless.
    Poonam Singh is 25 and for 12 of those years she was bedridden.
    She was paralysed from the chest down and entirely dependant on her family.

    Dr Shroff guides me into one of the rooms in her clinic and proudly introduces her. "This is the star patient," she says paternally.

    Poonam looks nervous and shy. She is lying on the bed and has iron rods strapped down both legs to keep her limbs straight. There are big, heavy black medical boots on her feet.

    "Come on Poonam," the doctor says "Show Alex what you can do".

    Poonam pulls herself up and swings her legs to the floor.

    Gripping a walker, with her father and brother watching, and with a lot of effort, she slowly stands and drags herself forward by sliding her feet one at a time along the floor.

    It is painful to watch but she IS moving. This is progress for a young woman who spent more than a decade lying on her back.

    Dr Shroff says Poonam arrived at the clinic in July last year and had her first shot of stem cells in August. She had them monthly and only two months later could sit on her own.

    "Sensation began coming back to my legs," says Poonam "and just before Diwali (November) I took my first steps. I could not believe it, after so long.

    "Now I really believe I will walk again. I am very happy."


    Sky's Alex Crawford

    Into another room. There's a rather grumpy looking man sitting on the bed.

    "Mr Aajmera has Parkinson's," Dr Shroff says by way of introduction. Gyan Ajmera was diagnosed with the disease in 1995.

    When he came to Dr Shroff he was in a wheelchair, unable to walk, with severe rigidity in his arms and legs and so much shaking and loss of control of his limbs he could not do much for himself.

    I ask him how he is. "I am fine," he answers holding out his hands to show me how steady they are. They don't move at all. Not even a whisper of a quiver.

    And then to our slight alarm, he jumps up. "Look I can walk" he twirls for the camera, "I can sit," he sits for the camera, "I can jump" he jumps for the camera , his arms spread-eagled.

    Dr Shroff's injections are clear liquid. She won't say exactly what they contain.

    She likens it to making curd."You take a tiny bit and you add it to milk and stir it and it makes more and more curd. That is what I have done with stem cells. It is not difficult and others could repeat it.

    "I am not saying I am a genius. Perhaps I have been lucky. I have a background in infertility treatment. I am a clinician and I work hard. I am only now realising I have stumbled onto something big and it really excites me.

    "There is so much suffering in India and so much disease - and these people have no hope. I am giving them hope.

    "I am not doing anything wrong and I am sticking to the guidelines as instructed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (the governing medical body in India)."

    This type of work is strictly controlled in the West because of the use of embryonic stem cells - considered the most versatile because they can replicate any cells in the body and repair diseased ones.


    Treatment 'downright dangerous' say some


    But they are also the most controversial as they involve embryos. Some believe embryos are the beginning of life and experimenting or using them is tantamount to infanticide.

    Because of these ethical and religious concerns, research is limited in the West.

    In India there are no such scruples. Dr Shroff is technically not breaking any laws.

    But her failure to present her work to her peers is raising concerns around the world.

    Stephen Minger - the director of King's College London stem cell biology laboratory is one of her toughest critics.

    "It is highly implausible and downright dangerous," he says. "If the Indian government wants to promote stem cell research then it needs to seriously look at regulation of these doctors and if necessary close them down."

    He points to the fact that Dr Shroff has repeatedly failed to offer documented and scientific proof of her work.

    And he warns that research in mice has shown that those injected with human stem cells have developed tumours. "We have no way of knowing the long-term side effects," he said.

    Dr Shroff is scathing. "My patients are my proof. None of them have suffered side effects. All of them are getting better.

    "I will tell in time, my own time. It will be soon. They don't want to believe an Indian woman has managed to do what they have not."

    But her work has come to the attention of the Indian Government which is rather tardily busily drafting new laws to better control the use of embryonic stem cells.

    Dr Raj Bahn, the Indian biotechnology secretary, told me: "India has many problems and we admit we have been slow to draw up these laws.

    "But there will be one, probably within a month.

    "I have advised (Dr Shroff) not to take any more patients and when the law is brought in, if she does not conform, she will be closed down."

    To some she is a quack. To her patients, she is a miracle-worker.

    As one paralysis victim told me after getting feeling back in his trunk and upper legs: "I don't care about what happens to me in the future.

    "My life was not worth living before. I would rather live like this now (with some movement) for two years than live like a vegetable for a hundred."

    More on This Story:
    Last edited by Leif; 01-23-2006, 01:10 PM.

  • #2
    "Dr Shroff's injections are clear liquid. She won't say exactly what they contain."

    This is a little bigger than just making curd - why so secretive and vague?

    Comment


    • #3
      Irony

      I don’t know much about this research in India but this is pretty ironically to me?

      This type of work is strictly controlled in the West because of the use of embryonic stem cells - considered the most versatile because they can replicate any cells in the body and repair diseased ones.

      Stephen Minger also urges on the video to have these therapies into the clinics as fast as possible (after safety issues are dealt with of course) for desperate patients – and I agree with him? Stop the small talk and require this research and its therapies. Leif
      Last edited by Leif; 01-23-2006, 01:35 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Leif
        I don’t know much about this research in India...

        Neither do I. It will be nice to see some major headlines and publications with this ongoing work.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thank you Leif...

          This is an interesting/exciting claim and i can only hope and prey that this is researched swiftly and a cure has been found! If you look at technology today it is bizarre to realize that we are still searching for a cure!
          Godspeed~
          Susan
          www.sciwalker.com

          Comment


          • #6
            I am sorry but this just doesn't sound right for several reasons:

            1. There is no evidence that Dr. Schroff is injecting embryonic stem cells. The fact that she is so secretive about the cells after having done 150 patients suggests that she in fact is not injecting embryonic stem cells. Why not show the cells and describe them? She does not describe how she pre-differentiates the cells, if at all, before transplantation. The lack of such information is very suspicious.

            2. I wonder how much Dr. Shroff knows about spinal cord injury and how rigorous she has been in examining the patients, whether the patients were incomplete or complete before the surgery. She probably assumes that no patients walk after spinal cord injury.

            3. The fact that this "works" on every disease that she has tried it on is also very suspicious. There is no such thing as a universal treatment.

            I would assume that this is a scam until more information becomes available.

            Wise.
            Last edited by Wise Young; 01-23-2006, 02:40 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Wise Young
              I am sorry but this just doesn't sound right for several reasons:

              1. There is no evidence that Dr. Schroff is injecting embryonic stem cells. The fact that she is so secretive about the cells after having done 150 patients suggests that she in fact is not injecting embryonic stem cells. Why not show the cells and describe them? She does not describe how she pre-differentiates the cells, if at all, before transplantation. The lack of such information is very suspicious.

              2. I wonder how much Dr. Shroff knows about spinal cord injury and how rigorous she has been in examining the patients, whether the patients were incomplete or complete before the surgery. She probably assumes that no patients walk after spinal cord injury.

              3. The fact that this "works" on every disease that she has tried it on is also very suspicious. There is no such thing as a universal treatment.

              I would assume that this is a scam until more information becomes available.

              Wise.
              Agreed, I think she is just making the desperate feel like she has the
              answer and she is afraid that her reputation with the local's will
              deteriorate if they find out she has truly done nothing. In a country
              like that, the people are easy prey for someone like her and will buy
              into anything.
              Word to your mother

              Comment


              • #8
                delete.
                Last edited by Susan Fajt; 01-23-2006, 04:48 PM.
                Godspeed~
                Susan
                www.sciwalker.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  I will assume that this doctors motives are positive, not negative until further information is gathered.
                  Godspeed~
                  Susan
                  www.sciwalker.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    trying to delete, lol
                    Last edited by Susan Fajt; 01-23-2006, 04:49 PM.
                    Godspeed~
                    Susan
                    www.sciwalker.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I also believe that this is just a bunch of nonsense, well according to what is written in the article and what the video shows about this multi-miracle cure that is (sorry Susan) – but what Stephen Minger is saying on the video link is good science I think.

                      Stephen Minger urges on the video to have these therapies into the clinics as fast as possible (after safety issues (more research) are dealt with of course) for desperate patients
                      Hey Susan – what’s going on, instead of deleting you are adding lol (don't delete me)
                      Last edited by Leif; 01-23-2006, 05:05 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The Hopeful.

                        Originally posted by Buck_Nasty
                        Agreed, I think she is just making the desperate feel like she has the
                        answer and she is afraid that her reputation with the local's will
                        deteriorate if they find out she has truly done nothing. In a country
                        like that, the people are easy prey for someone like her and will buy
                        into anything.
                        Agreed, except that, without critical media scrutiny, this probable quack will likely draw the hopeful from around the world.
                        This sort of claim w/o any real proof or substantiation is another form of mysticism.
                        "Show me mysticism and I'll show you charlatanism not far behind." Thomas Huxley
                        Also, extream claims should recquire extream proof.
                        "Sometimes I just sets and thinks...
                        and sometimes I just sets.
                        "

                        Otis Redding I think

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Leif,

                          I can not delete you, heck i can't even delete my own posts, lol... In anycase, i know nothing about this scientist yet feel it is important to give her some credit as her patients are happy and this is good! Inevitably the truth will unveil itself and i will be optimistic as this is raising awarness and sometimes the best defense is offense. (grinning)
                          Godspeed~
                          Susan
                          www.sciwalker.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I hope she doesn't turn out to be a big fraud - if so she sure as hell picked a GREAT time to discredit the SCR field even further

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jukespin
                              Agreed, except that, without critical media scrutiny, this probable quack will likely draw the hopeful from around the world.
                              This sort of claim w/o any real proof or substantiation is another form of mysticism.
                              "Show me mysticism and I'll show you charlatanism not far behind." Thomas Huxley
                              Also, extream claims should recquire extream proof.
                              Jukespin – I agree on some with you here. - But to be fair to this Indian doctor she has not here self started this hype, the media and western media as well has been after here for a long time like it was also western media which publicised this article and video. There are many articles here on CC about here for people that are interested can read.

                              I don’t think personally that this “overseas” treatment will work at this stage.

                              On the other side, if we look at the arguments from here they are not worse than arguments from doctors working on this in other places in the world – one Russian professor has had similar statements like hers, like this “My patients are my proof. None of them have suffered side effects. All of them are getting better” – can you see what I’m trying to say here, I don’t think she is worse than many of those doctors performing experimental treatments on patients “overseas” today… They are all very diffuse when it comes to the procedure being used, history of patients and outcome etc. There is a lot of bull crap going on these days I’m afraid and all this secrecy will create problems for research institutions “overseas” which actually are serious – but who are the serious ones, when all of them are the same secretive? She also says this “"I will tell in time, my own time. It will be soon” – and don’t they all? Leif

                              Comment

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