Stem cell research benefits Houston woman with multiple sclerosis

Posted: April 6, 2015 at 7:43 pm

HOUSTON -

It's a debate that puts many people's religious beliefs at odds with science.

Medical breakthroughs have allowed doctors to use human stem cells to treat chronic diseases with incredible results, but even patients who benefit have reservations about how stem cells are harvested.

Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating, progressive disease that typically only gets worse once a patient is diagnosed. But much to the surprise of many doctors, patient Debbie Bertrand's symptoms have improved instead of regressing.

"The last time I walked into this building, I had to use the wheelchair," Bertrand said. "I couldn't even walk, so this is a big day for me."

Bertrand uses a walker to visit Celltex -- a Houston company that has been preserving her stem cells since 2011. She was one of the first patients to receive breakthrough treatments using stem cells taken from fat cells, which are then reinjected into her body.

"I had pretty high expectations, but I think they've exceeded anything I could've ever hoped for," Bertrand said. "My doctors are still blown away because you're never supposed to get better when you have MS. But my quality of life is just so much better."

Bertrand's experience is not unique. The company said stem cell injections have helped people with joint diseases and Parkinson's.

CEO David Eller said he was healed of knee pain.

"We're happy that it's working and we're happy for people like Debbie Bertrand," Eller said. "A lot of people don't have the time to wait 10 years and find out if it's going to be legal or not."

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Stem cell research benefits Houston woman with multiple sclerosis

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