Giving hope: The promise of stem cell therapy

MANILA - As stem cell treatment begins to gain traction among Filipinos, a surgeon believes the country is now entering a new phase in medicine.

Dr. Levi John Lansangan, one of the founding members of the Philippine Stem Cell Society, said there is much promise in stem cell therapy because of the hope it gives to ailing patients.

"Before it was only physiologic, then it became pathologic, which deals with diseases. Then it became pharmacologic, wherein we give medicine. But now it is regenerative, wherein the body heals by itself," Lansangan told ANC's "Prime Time" on Wednesday.

Stem cell treatment involves harvesting stem cells, processing them, and injecting them back to the body.

Lansangan said the autologous treatment, which harvests stem cells from the patients own system, is the safest type of stem cell procedure.

The procedure may last for up to 4 hours, depending on the patients health. It may cost up to P1.6 million.

Stem cell treatment is believed to have the potential to cure illnesses including diabetes, heart ailments, brain damage such as Parkinsons and Alzheimers, osteoarthritis, stroke, baldness and even sports injuries.

The hardest thing to say to a patient is hopelessness. If you say there is no hope for the disease, it is very unacceptable for the patient. But with stem cell, were giving hope. Not hope in the sense that we are just giving placebo but hope that there is really something into it thats really big, Lansangan said.

But Lansangan warned that there are also risks involved in the process, particularly if stem cells are derived from animals such as rabbits and black sheep.

There are a lot of sources for stem cell. But the only stem cell sources approved by the DOH [Department of Health] come from the bone marrow, fats and blood of the patient itself. We dont recognize xenograph, or from animals. That is where the problem lies, he said.

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Giving hope: The promise of stem cell therapy

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