Monday, August 28, 2017

Fibromyalgia and Stem Cells

In 2010 a patient told me about stem cells in the treatment of fibromyalgia [1]. What are stell cells? I’ll introduce some of these cells to you. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells, which differentiate into other cells like liver or other organ cells or hematopoietic cells. You have fetal or adult stem cells. Bone marrow transplants use stem cells from the bone marrow of the patient (autologous) or from a donor (allogenic). Allogenic grafts bear the risk of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a serious condition, which might lead to death. The more matching the donor’s proteins are, the less risky the transplant will be. Transplanting a xenograft means using cells from another species. The FDA issued a warning about stem cells [2]: “FDA has not approved any stem cell-based products for use, other than cord blood-derived hematopoietic progenitor cells (blood forming stem cells) for certain indications including certain blood cancers and some inherited metabolic and immune system disorders.”

Today someone tried to put an ad for a stem cell therapy on my blog: ”Fibomyalgia is called a invisible syndrome. Because it is so difficult to diagnose this disease by lab test. 2%-4% of the people are affected by this syndrome and most of them are women. Fibromyalgia treatment [a link to a commercial page]“. Concerning these stem cells what we have is the Frischzellentherapie [live-cell therapy] by Niehans. The cells are derived out of sheep fetus for instance, a xenograft (graft of a different species) – that would make it a FDA non-approved therapy. The last article on Frischzellentherapie has been by de Ridder and colleagues in 1987 [3]: “[2 cases of death following cell therapy].” The authors told us: “In one instance, a 75-year-old woman died 30 days after an intramuscular injection of quick-frozen fresh cells from the effects of an immune-complex vasculitis; in the other, a 60-year-old woman died 14 days after "original fresh-cell treatment after Prof. Niehans" from perivenous leucoencephalitis.”

The page is well done showing two models, who pose as medical doctors; I looked up the photographs on Google Images. These models are always equipped with stethoscopes. Maybe they want to listen to the sound of the stem cells or expect tender points to squeak with pain. Interestingly they were also used on a homepage for a dentist in Bulgaria – for what would he have use for a stethoscope?
And they offer two links for research papers. The first link brings you to an article in German about the history of the Frischzellentherapie. Niehans himself had written, however [4]: „Neben «Organschädigungen» und «Altersgebrechen» könne mit ihr etwa die damals mit dem Begriff «Mongolismus» bezeichnete heutige «Trisomie  21» ebenso geheilt werden wie auch die «Fehlentwicklung» Homosexualität.“ [Translation: "In addition to "organ damage" and "old age", the "trisomy 21", which was then referred to as the "Mongolism", could be cured as well as the" misdevelopment" homosexuality.”]

The Frischzellentherapie [live-cell therapy] has been popular in Germany during the 50ies and 60ies. Wikipedia has an article in German [5], which tells us on risks: “[Like any foreign tissue, fetal cattle or sheep cells can cause severe allergic reactions to an allergic shock with cardiac arrest. There is no scientific evidence of the efficacy of the therapy. Therefore, evidence-based medicine basically rejects cell therapy.]” And: [“Medical practitioners refer to the preparations used as a risk material, in which there is the risk that diseases of an animal are transmitted to humans, for example BSE, rabies or Q-fever. The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning. Other risks arise from the possible occurrence of autoimmune diseases.”]

In 2015 there has been an article on unauthorized living cell therapies in Switzerland [6], as there is no such authorization. Penal proceedings against clinics using these therapies have been initiated then.

Have a look at scientific articles! Oh, sorry there are none. Here are a few searches on stem cells and fibromyalgia:
("Adult Stem Cells"[Mesh]) AND "Fibromyalgia"[Mesh] No documents match your search terms
("Fibromyalgia"[Mesh]) AND "Mesenchymal Stromal Cells"[Mesh] No documents match your search terms
("Fibromyalgia"[Mesh]) AND "Tissue Therapy, Historical"[Mesh] No documents match your search terms

Cellular (cell) therapy can be defined as the use of natural cells to treat a disease. It starts with the selection of organs cells from a fetal animal specially bred for this purpose”, boasts the homepage of this doubtable stem cell therapy. And: “Due to the fact that this fetal cells DO NOT contain antigens, they are not recognized as foreign by the human body.” How could this be as the cells are from a another species (animal)? So the second link to an article is worthless as it looks at human mesenchymal stem cells [7].

Monthly injections will cost 512.91 US$ and capsules to be taken orally 431.91 US$. Lots of certificates: “Not tested on Animals” – wow, you kill animals, but are proud that you didn’t test it on animals – wait a second, don’t tell me you did unapproved human testing. More likely you didn’t test it at all.

I cannot recommend this “therapy”. You better stay away from it.

Links and References: 
[4] Niehans P. 20 Jahre Zellulartherapie. Berlin, München, Wien: Urban & Schwarzenberg 1952,  (= Beihefte zur Medizinischen Klinik, 47),



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