Cell Therapy – Cancer

Posted: January 10, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Other common name(s): cellular therapy, fresh cell therapy, live cell therapy, glandular therapy, xenotransplant therapy

Scientific/medical name(s): none

In cell therapy, processed tissue from the organs, embryos, or fetuses of animals such as sheep or cows is injected into patients. Cell therapy is promoted as an alternative form of cancer treatment.

Available scientific evidence does not support claims that cell therapy is effective in treating cancer or any other disease. Serious side effects can result from cell therapy. It may in fact be lethalseveral deaths have been reported. It is important to distinguish between this alternative method involving animal cells and mainstream cancer treatments that use human cells, such as bone marrow transplantation.

In cell therapy, live or freeze-dried cells or pieces of cells from the healthy organs, fetuses, or embryos of animals such as sheep or cows are injected into patients. This is supposed to repair cellular damage and heal sick or failing organs. Cell therapy is promoted as an alternative therapy for cancer, arthritis, heart disease, Down syndrome, and Parkinson disease.

Cell therapy is also marketed to counter the effects of aging, reverse degenerative diseases, improve general health, increase vitality and stamina, and enhance sexual function. Some practitioners have proposed using cell therapy to treat AIDS patients.

The theory behind cell therapy is that the healthy animal cells injected into the body can find their way to weak or damaged organs of the same type and stimulate the body's own healing process. The choice of the type of cells to use depends on which organ is having the problem. For instance, a patient with a diseased liver may receive injections of animal liver cells. Most cell therapists today use cells taken from taken from the tissue of animal embryos.

Supporters assert that after the cells are injected into the body, they are transported directly to where they are most needed. They claim that embryonic and fetal animal tissue contains therapeutic agents that can repair damage and stimulate the immune system, thereby helping cells in the body heal.

The alternative treatment cell therapy is very different from some forms of proven therapy that use live human cells. Bone marrow transplants infuse blood stem cellsfrom the patient or a carefully matched donorafter the patients own bone marrow cells have been destroyed. Studies have shown that bone marrow transplants are effective in helping to treat several types of cancer. In another accepted procedure, damaged knee cartilage can be repaired by taking cartilage cells from the patient's knee, carefully growing them in the laboratory, and then injecting them back into the joint. Approaches involving transplants of other types of human stem cells are being studied as a possible way to replace damaged nerve or heart muscle cells, but these approaches are still experimental.

First, healthy live cells are harvested from the organs of juvenile or adult live animals, animal embryos, or animal fetuses. These cells may be taken from the brain, pituitary gland, thyroid gland, thymus gland, liver, kidney, pancreas, spleen, heart, ovaries, testicles, or even from whole embryos. Patients might receive one or several types of animal cells. Some cell therapists inject fresh cells into their patients. Others freeze them first, which kills the cells, and they may filter out some of the cell components. Frozen cell extracts have a longer "shelf life" and can be screened for disease. Fresh cells cannot be screened. A course of cell therapy to address a specific disease might require several injections over a short period of time, whereas cell therapy designed to treat the effects of aging and "increase vitality" may involve injections received over many months.

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Cell Therapy – Cancer

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