A breakthrough: Stem cell therapy cures Covid-19 The Manila Times – The Manila Times

Posted: July 30, 2020 at 6:56 pm

SIX patients who were suffering from the acute coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) were cured through the stem cell technology using blood from preserved umbilical cords.

The revolutionary method of curing the dreaded virus, which originated in China and has spread worldwide, was announced by The Medical City (TMC) hospital in Pasig City.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd was informed of the breakthrough in treating the pandemic illness through a letter sent by Dr. Eugenio F. Ramos, TMC president and chief executive officer, on Thursday, July 23.

Our government, particularly the Department of Health, can take pride in the fact that the Philippines is not behind at all in innovative practice in medicine, said Ramos in his letter to Duque.

The TMC has been experimenting with stem cell therapy since 2015 through its Institute of Personalized Molecular Medicines stem cell program.

The stem cell experiment was made on seven Covid-19 patients who were so ill they were about to be intubated.

Intubation means inserting a tube into the patients mouth that reaches the trachea to allow him/her to breathe through a lung machine.

Six of the seven patients had recovered, the TMC said; one was so ill he died during the procedure.

As I told you this morning, we would have wanted to complete at least 10 Covid-19 cases before informing you, but it might be taken against us if we kept this knowledge from the public too long while patients are dying and no single drug seems to work, Dr. Ramos told Duque.

Ramos simplified for the public how the stem cell therapy works:

Stem cells are very young cells from the body that can be differentiated into whatever cell lines (lung, heart, kidney, liver, skin, etc.) that the body needs when it needs them, e.g., when an organ is injured or deteriorates. Stem cells can be triggered or infused to do [repair] work.

In severe Covid-19 cases, what triggers a cascade of inflammatory cells (called cytokines) is the injury caused by the virus. The lungs, in particular, become inflamed and the respiratory function rapidly deteriorates leading to death.

Before the cascade happens in which case the patient is in a severe condition probably requiring intubation the infusion of mesenchymal stem cells collected [from] the umbilical cord and grown in [the regenerative medicine laboratory of TMC into the patients veins, takes place.

A total of four infusions are given over a short period of a few days. These messenchymal stem cells rally the cells in the lungs to fight the cytokines.

In short, the stem cells from the umbilical cord produce new cells to replace those damaged by the virus in the lungs, leading to the patients recovery.

The umbilical cord is rich in nutrients to rebuild destroyed tissues, according to Ramos.

TMCs stem cell program also makes use of bone marrow taken from a patients spine to cure cancer.

But the bone marrow stem cell is also used to delay the aging process in elderly patients.

TMC had the most number of bone marrow transplantation for blood cancers, with more than 90 percent survival rate, said Dr. Ramos.

Since 2015, a total of 112 patients have enrolled in TMCs regenerative medicine program.

Of the total, 57 percent were cancer patients and 43 percent were non-cancer patients, said TMCs Dr. Michelle Joy Baldorado-de Vera.

Oncologists (doctors who specialize in cancer) are part of the regenerative medicine program Alan Olavere, Marina Chua-Tan and Josephine Tolentino.

Other members are hematologists (blood doctors) Norma Ona and Alma Calavera, neurologists John Tiongson and Marc Joseph Buensalido, and immunologist Michelle de Vera.

Dr. Sam Bernal, a Filipino American who grew up in the United States, is a consultant to the program.

Bernal is a molecular scientist and an oncologist who has been into stem cell technology for decades.

He was part of the foreign group that was tapped by the government for technology transfer.

Former Health secretary Alfredo Bengzon, who is a part owner of TMC, engaged Bernal to pioneer stem cell therapy in the country.

TMC has had foreign patients who underwent stem cell therapy, but refuses to disclose their number.

As is the norm among Filipinos who have the crab mentality, TMCs stem cell program has been criticized by fellow doctors.

Weve been defending the program from the outset, said Dr. Ramos.

But its not only TMC that has been into stem cell therapy; the other hospitals are the Makati Medical Center and the governments National Kidney and Transplant Institute.

A breakthrough: Stem cell therapy cures Covid-19 The Manila Times - The Manila Times

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