Stem cell therapy available in Phl — medical groups

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - After celebrity talk show host and actress Kris Aquino announced that she would bring her son Joshua to hospitals abroad for stem cell treatment, two local medical groups assured the public yesterday that the procedure is now available in the country.

“We have the ethical, moral, safe and effective stem cell or regenerative medicine technology available in the country today,” Philippine Society for Stem Cell Medicine (PSSCM) spokesman Dr. Leo Olarte said yesterday.  Olarte is also the president of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA).

Olarte said the Philippines is not lagging behind other countries in stem cell technology, which is seen as the future of medicine.

“We not only have internationally accepted stem cell technologies here but the competent medical doctors and experts as well to perform the procedure for our patients,” he said. 

Kris, in her morning talk show last Tuesday, said she wanted to take a leave from showbiz to bring Joshua abroad for stem cell therapy.

She said her first option was Europe, followed by Singapore and then the Medical City in Pasig City.

According to the ABS-CBN website, Kris is considering three options for treatment for Josh — a live animal stem cell treatment in Europe, a new treatment in Singapore that involves fat-derived human stem cells, and one in Medical City involving extracts from the bone marrow.

The TV host said special children of some of her friends have shown big improvement after undergoing stem cell procedure.

Olarte said the PSSCM has been working closely with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC)’s Board of Medicine so the practice of stem cell therapy will be regulated to protect patients from unscrupulous practices.

The group is also hoping to prepare the country toward medical tourism that is anchored on stem cell or regenerative medicine.

“PSSCM is pushing only for autologous stem cell therapy which means that the source of the stem cells must come only from the patient’s own body or the patient’s own bone marrow, blood and adipose tissues (fat) because this is the safest and proven procedure that is available worldwide today,” Olarte said.           

The group has discouraged patients from considering xenogenic stem cell sources or those derived from animals, plants and other sources, and allogenic sources or stem cells from other human beings because experience showed that most deadly complications come from these kinds of procedures.

“We have persisting reports of cases done in Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore and other countries where death resulted due to severe complications specifically graft versus host reaction and infections,” Olarte said.

The PSSCM official said the autologous stem cell therapy already has “impeccable record in degenerative diseases, autism, dementia, parkinsons, strokes, osteoarthritis, diabetes and a host of other ailments.”

“If consulted, we are very willing to help in any way Ms. Kris Aquino most especially in making available to her the correct information to guide her in making the right decision for her beloved son Josh” he said. 

Meanwhile, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) advised Kris to consider adult stem cell for Josh, which he described to be “moral” kind.

CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Bioethics (ECB) chairman Bishop Jose Oliveros he would not object to Kris’ plans for Josh, as long as the treatment would be within the bounds of morality.

 â€œIt depends on what kind of stem cells will be used and for what purpose. Morally speaking, only adult stem cells are allowed for therapeutic reasons,” Bishop Oliveros said.

He said the Church has nothing against the use of adult stem cells since the host or the source would not be killed.

“Embryonic stem cells are taken from human embryos. It’s tantamount to killing an already living human being, hence immoral,” he said. – With Evelyn Macairan










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