Reporting from Kiev Ukraine on the Stem Cell Therapy Process at EmCell

This Sunday I spent most of the day with Dr Karpenko, one of originators of the EmCell center and during the morning we both met with the clinicians who would carrying out the treatments on the patients. We reviewed medical histories and considered various stem cell mixtures to assist each patient with their individual needs. The families that came with me on this trip represent a diverse spectrum of challenges for the doctors – ranging from breast cancer (post chemotherapy) to autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, post traumatic injuries, and Lyme disease. The clinicians here have vast experience in treating many disorders.  They have treated an estimated 100 children with autism (mostly from Europe and far more than I realized) and I believe they have more experience than any stem cell therapy center in the World. Dr Nouytska is reported to be the first clinician to treat any human disease (type 1 diabetes) with stem cells over 20 years ago. All of her colleagues: including Dr Sych (the neurologist – with an appropriate last name), Dr Hemchuk, Dr Klunnik and the others were incredibly patient with our high need, high demand patients.  They were also very willing to learn from our clinical experiences with treating children with autism.  The administrative assistant Yuliia (“Eula”) was organized and extremely proficient as a translator.  She is also very passionate about stem cell therapies after her many years of work with EmCell and having seen so many benefits for the patients. Dr Karpenko with Joe (more on him to follow) hosted a traditional ethnic dinner with the families last night and Dr Karpenko patiently answered all of the parents very direct questions about stem cell therapies.

But none of this would be happening for these families right now if a big hearted American – Wisconsin born (Joe Maerske) hadn’t picked up the phone to talk to me about EmCell.  Joe did his job of lowering my fears about this – at least to me – unknown group of clinicians and researchers.  I am so glad he did.  He rightly called it: these are warm and talented people who will do all they can to help what can be helped with the tools they have (specialty stem cells).

First let me say that many people have very little knowledge of Kiev, and I will put myself in the category as well.  I have traveled all over western Europe, but this was my first trip to the central countries of Europe. So let me settle your curiosities and say Kiev is a modern city with one foot in the past and one in the future.  Infrastructure enhancement and new construction is going on everywhere. Despite this, many parts of the city (like many cities) are still in need of significant repairs and modernization. 

The only problem I have in Kiev is the same problem I have faced in Thailand and China (the alphabet).  The Cyrillic alphabet is just different for me. I know enough Latin, French, German and Spanish to piece together most of my needs in western Europe, but the alphabet precludes me from doing that in Ukraine. However, we are guided through this process by wonderful people who are very skilled in English.  The drivers who transport us back and forth are always on time and some speak English but they know exactly where to escort us for treatment and they are always on time.   I will let the families give me comments to post (in the next few days) about this trip so you can know how their children with autism managed the long flight, time zones, the city and the treatments. But in summary they are all amazing their parents with how well they are tolerating the travel.

Below is a picture of my wife (Jennifer) taken yesterday from our hotel balcony in the old downtown area of the city. It is lovely and looks like any other modern city in Europe. I would have liked to post pictures about the hospital and the clinic, but I took those on my movie camera and left my cable at home.  So I will take my still camera tomorrow and give you more perspectives on the process.

I start off again with the families early in the morning so I will conclude this post by letting you know I had no immediate side-effects from the stem cells transplantation (implanting) I had today for my own loss of cartilage in my knee and my post disc injury nerve damage in my legs.  It will be an interesting test of the potency of these cells to see what my own progress is as well as that of the children with autism who are being treated at the same time.   More tomorrow if the Kiev Ballet performance of Swan Lake doesn’t take up too much time.  I hear it is every bit as good, if not better, than the Bolshoi in Moscow. 

Smells in Urine or Feces: Helpful tools

I often get asked about odd smells in urine or feces so I thought I would put this together as a short list to help.  In part it comes from wikipedia and wine tasting links.  Keep this as a reference for your family health.

Acetaldehyde: Smell of roasted nuts or dried out straw.

Amyl-acetate: Sweet or Smell of “fake” candy banana flavoring

Brettanomyces: Smell of barnyards, fecal and gamey horse aromas

Diacetyl : Smell of rancid butter

Ethyl acetate : Smell of vinegar, paint thinner and nail polish remover

Hydrogen sulfide: Smell of rotten eggs or garlic that has gone bad

Iodine: Smell of moldy grapes

Lactic acid bacteria: Smell of sauerkraut

Mercaptans: Smell of burnt rubber and/or cooked cabbage

Sorbic acid plus lactic acid bacteria: Smell of crushed geranium leaves

Sulfur dioxide: Smell of burnt matches.

Ketotifen: TNF alpha > More Than Allergy: Important to Heart Disease, Autism, Alzheimer’s and more…

We know that ketotifen helps to stabilize mast cells.  So do a variety if natural substances like curcumin. But there seems to be times a medication is required. When it is – ketotifen may be a good choice.  Look at what happens when a mast cell is triggered – a huge warehouse of immune chemistry if unloaded.

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Graphic Credit: Guo-Ping Shi, DSc (http://www.abcam.com/index.html?pageconfig=resource&rid=12011&pid=10694)

From a mother of a child with autism: “The pollen became quite high here in the South again on Friday, and it really showed in his behavior – terrible upset and aggression at school. I began using the drops twice a day beginning yesterday, and it really made a positive difference for him.  Despite a 3300 pollen count today, his behavior has been good. Ketotifen is the first antihistamine to which my son has not developed an adverse reaction and which also seems to be effective for him — a double win!”

I had recommended she use the OTC Ketotifen eye drops in his nose.  This is not always easy in allergy but if you can pull it off it is frequently a WOW – just like this mom tells us.

That complicated graphic explains why – at least in part. 

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This interesting article from the cardiovascular research arena, shows how remarkably ketotifen protects the heart by suppressing the release of TNF-alpha.

That is exactly the effect we may need in the brain of children with ASD, grandparents with Alzheimer’s and anyone during a heart attack.  Recognizing when TNF alpha is not defending, but instead harming us – will be a critical part of progressive medical care.

TNF alpha and Chronic Disease.

TNF alpha is critical to most chronic illnesses.  Regulating its overexpression is critical – but we are designed to have some TNF alpha all the time, and a whole lot when we need it.  So we will need to find ways to determine its proper balance. I think we have that available to us in our proper use of biomarkers of inflammation.

In this graphic the researchers bring our attention to the important subject of sensitizing cells to the TNF effect.  I believe this is at the heart of the downward spiral of chronic illnesses.

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http://www.jpp.krakow.pl/journal/archive/08_07_s3/articles/08_article.html

 

IMMUNE REGULATION OF ALZHEIMER’S AND DIABETES

This link is to an important presentation by the researcher working on the Enbrel® protocol for and therapy for Alzheimer’s. TBI and Stroke.  It may be equally important in autism.  Please go to the link and click on the video and then listen to his talk. It is important to what I will be talking about in the next series of blogs  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2100099/

And this literature points to the very complex regulatory role of NF- kappa B.  It is influenced by TNF and also regulates TNF.

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“TNF-α is one of the most prominent pro-inflammatory cytokines significantly increased in AD and it plays a central role in initiating and regulating the cytokine cascade during inflammatory responses. For example, TNF-α increases the expression of adhesion
molecules on the vascular endothelium, which allows leukocytes and immune cells to infiltrate areas of tissue damage and infection.” (I. Granic et al. / NF-κB in Alzheimer’s Disease and Diabetes).

IMMUNE REGULATION OF VASCULAR DISEASE

This quote from Blood Journal illustrates the complexity of the immune regulation of vascular disease. “Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease of the arterial wall that carries an important socioeconomic burden. The severe clinical manifestations of atherosclerosis (myocardial infarction, stroke) are mainly due to the abrupt obstruction of the vessel lumen by a thrombus formed on the contact of a ruptured or eroded atherosclerotic plaque. The available data strongly suggest that immunoinflammatory–related mechanisms are the major determinants of plaque complications. Therefore, most of the important advances in the comprehension of the mechanisms of atherosclerosis have come from studies aimed at elucidating the critical components involved in the modulation of the immunoinflammatory balance within the plaque. However, despite the increasing knowledge regarding the role of inflammation in atherogenesis, the precise intracellular transduction pathways involved in this process remain largely unexplored.”  (http://bloodjournal.hematologylibrary.org/content/103/3/754.2.full)

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Over the next weeks I will be pulling the facts together so you can make better health decisions about all these chronic illnesses including Cancer and HIV and most neurological problems. 

Why I Am More Hopeful Now Than Ever About Autism, ME/CFS, HIV, Alzheimer’s and other Chronic Illnesses: the Stem Cell, TNF-alpha, Viral/Pathogen connection.

On this blog I have been writing about stem cells, hyperbaric oxygen (HBOT), and some incredible new observations related to reversing brain inflammation.  All of the diseases I listed above and a whole bunch more are tied to persistent inflammation.  Inflammation itself is very important to the body.  In a healthy person it doesn’t persist. It comes in response injury or infection – cleans that up – then stem cells communicate the need to stop the inflammation and heal.  To that extent, these chronic – persistent inflammatory conditions are the result of a failure of stem cells to do their job to counter inflammation. I will explain what is keeping them out of the process below and in future posts.

As this following picture demonstrates, the balance of inflammation regulation in the brain is complicated, intricate and precarious. But science has reached a point where we understand a large portion of the regulatory pathways.

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[Frontiers in Bioscience 14, 5291-5338, June 1, 2009]

Caption: Microglia are the primary recipients of peripheral inflammatory signals as they reach the brain. Activated microglia initiate an inflammatory cascade by releasing cytokines, chemokines, prostaglandins and reactive nitrogen and oxygen species (RNS and ROS, respectively). Bi-directional exchanges between microglia and astroglia amplify inflammatory signals within the central nervous system (CNS). Cytokines including interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6, tumor necrosis (TNF)-alpha and interferon (IFN)-gamma induce indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase (IDO), the enzyme responsible for degrading tryptophan, the primary precursor of serotonin (5-HT), into kynurenine, which is eventually metabolized into quinolinic acid (QUIN), a potent NMDA agonist and stimulator of glutamate (Glu) release. Multiple astrocytic functions are compromised due to the excessive exposure to cytokines, prostaglandins, QUIN and RNS/ROS, ultimately leading to downregulation of glutamate transporters, impaired glutamate reuptake, excessive glutamate release and compromised synthesis and release of neurotrophic factors. Oligodendroglia suffer damage due to toxic overexposure to cytokines such as TNF-alpha, and diminished neurotrophic support, both of which promote apoptosis and demyelination. Copious amounts of glutamate are released from astrocytes in the vicinity of extrasynaptic NMDA receptors, whose activation leads to inhibition of BDNF synthesis. Excessive NMDA activation, caused by QUIN and D-serine, is compounded by diminished glutamate reuptake by astrocytes and oligodendroglia. NMDA-mediated excitotoxicity, combined with a consequent decline in neurotrophic support, and an increase in oxidative stress, synergistically disrupts neural plasticity and induces apoptosis (cell death).

So it doesn’t matter if we are talking about autism, post-stroke inflammation, Alzheimer’s, HIV dementia; the central mechanism is largely the same.

Now this is important to understand: if we have persistent inflammation in the brain, what is driving that signal? The immune system has lots of regulatory steps designed to keep it in balance, but despite all the intrinsic safeguards in the system – it has lost control. Why?

Some perspective: About 5 years ago I was sitting on a bus with Professor Thayne Sweeten. We were on our way to dinner to relax after a full day of brainstorming as a group of researchers interested in autism. Thayne is a bright guy. His PhD dissertation was Immune Activation and Autoimmunity in Autism. He explained from everything he had seen regarding the immune system of autism; the CSF observations, the increase in neopterin, etc,, that at least a significant subgroup of children had the immunological footprint of a persistent viral pathogen.

I agreed – and I still do agree – especially after 5 years of discoveries. And it doesn’t have to be a virus: many other pathogenic bacteria and fungi could cause the same response. But for simplicity let’s just say virus.

We don’t have to agree about which virus is persistent in autism, it actually doesn’t matter that much. I am surprised to hear myself say that, but after what I have learned in the last few months, I don’t think the actual virus is that important.  That is because most do not have a specific anti-viral drug (apart from HIV and some Herpes viruses).  Even in those cases the drugs are inadequate and something else is needed.

THE IMMUNE SYSTEM IS BLINDED

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The picture depicts the blind miraculously being given sight. I would love to see a miracle of immune unblinding in autism, or any of these other disorders.  Absent that we need to give it sight medically.

If you read my blog about this last night I spoke about the problem.  We have a raging immune response just like we would expect with a viral infection, except it doesn’t go away. Why?  The immune cells (particularly macrophages) seem to be blind and cannot find the enemy they are looking for.  So while they stumble around, unable to find the viral enemies, the entire system stays turned on.  And it will stay turned on until either stem cells say enoughits time to heal, or until the virus is eliminated.

The evidence is we don’t generate enough stem cell response to regulate this type of immune response – presumably because the viruses are still present.  Therefore, extra stem cells may help cool the immune fires. BUT, and it is an important but, do we want to down-regulate the immune system if a virus is still present? My belief is – no.

What we want is to make the virus go away and with that have the immune response naturally calm down.

To do that we have to give sight to the blind and help the macrophages find their targets.

To do this we are working with some of the finest biotech labs in Europe and we believe we have the solution.  More on that to come.

A brief but helpful discussion about TNF alpha is on wikipedia.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tumor_necrosis_factor-alpha

What Can Stem Cells Do for Autism, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and other Chronic Inflammatory Disorders?

Is there a common pathway for most of the illnesses the plague us day after day? And if so is there some way to correct the problem from its source rather than just using drugs to cover-up the symptoms?  These are some of the most important questions we face in long term health management and if we do not find good solutions for these problems, our health care expenses threaten to bankrupt our pension plans, state and federal governments, and all of the rest of us.  Putting it plainly – we cannot afford to be as sick as we are.

Through junk food, a lack of exercise, additives in our food – along with the pesticides, plastics and toxins in the air, water, food, cosmetics and household product, we are clearly making a mess of our health. At the end of this path of destruction is the root of most degenerative disorders – chronic inflammation. The natural response of the body to toxin is an increase in both inflammation and oxidative stress.  What that means is our defenders – white blood cells – turn on their programmed defenses.  These white blood cells create oxidizers to kill viruses and bacteria and then attract other cells to digest the damaged cells.   If that process looses its regulation it gradually becomes sustained (chronic) and with that we feel our health start to slip away.

We give these chronic inflammatory disorders different names: autism, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and even vascular heart disease. All of these conditions share a root problem: unchecked up-regulation of the immune system and all the negative consequences associated with that immune response.

Proving we have a big problem with chronic pain and inflammation -non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are some of the most commonly consumed over-the-counter and prescription medications we have (about $9 billion/year is spent buying OTC NSAIDs). These are drugs like ibuprofen and Celebrex®. In the US alone they are responsible for over 16,000 deaths each year due to bleeding and renal failure.  An additional 100,000 plus individuals find themselves hospitalized from NSAID related side-effects. Our efforts to treat our chronic inflammation is literally killing us.

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Now contrast that with stem cells.  Autologous (self-donated) stems pose next to no risk to the individual.  They can be simply harvested from relatively small amounts of adipose (fat) and re-administered in a variety of ways. The are biologically programmed to reduce chronic inflammation.

Stem cells, therefore, have the potential to be life-savers. If in no other way they offer a non-toxic alternative to NSAIDs. Stem cells could save 1000’s of lives a year by potentially preventing NSAID associated deaths.

I’ll have more to talk about with the various ways stem cells will create a shift in medical practice, and why stem cells are perhaps the most natural solution for what ails us.