Documentary ‘The Search for a Miracle Cure’ tells the story of a stem cell therapy being trialled in Israel. British TV station Channel 4 broadcast it on Thursday night.
The programme followed British solicitor (lawyer) Mark Lewis as he travelled to Jerusalem to take part in a trial in a hope to find a cure for multiple sclerosis.
The treatment involves injecting stem cells into the base of the spine but is NOT the well known HSCT therapy. One big difference is that, unlike HSCT, the new experimental treatment at Hadassah University Medical Centre, does not include chemotherapy.
Hadassah is conducting a double-blind trial that involves stem cells and placebos. The patients do not know what they are getting, and nor does the medical team.
Mark, who is an internationally known lawyer, experienced amazing improvements within two hours of his first treatment. However, by the time his second treatment came around, six months later, much of those improvements had not lasted.
So much for a miracle cure.
Regular readers will know that I am a fervent supporter of HSCT as a superior treatment of MS. And that despite being told that I am an unsuitable candidate for it, as I already have a heart condition. So, it should surprise no one that I intend to keep an eye out for the results of this trial, and will not judge it until then.
For now, my views could only be based on the TV programme and the subsequent comments made by Mark and his wife Mandy.
Mark believes there will be a cure
Mark said: “I’m in my 50s. GP notes suspected MS 44 years ago. MRI diagnosis 29 years ago. I have Secondary Progressive (SPMS) and had 90% paralysis in my right hand. This was miraculous. Within two hours a 29-year pain had gone.”
Mandy said: “This treatment is different from others I have heard about. It really didn’t have down time or side effects. The results where immediate.
“Mark has secondary Progressive MS. He hadn’t been able to clap his hands for years and years, he can now. He can shake hands using his right hand.
“I think you need continued injections of stem cells to reap the full benefit. It’s really just having an epidural injecting your own stem cells, but they are trying to see if it works in a drip form into the arm too. Side effects-headache.”
Mark added: “Just a few points:
“1. I believe that there will be a cure. If you don’t then that is your prerogative
“2. They use your own stem cells not from a donor.
“3. The trial uses spinal and intravenous injections. It is double blind, so it might be the IV that I had was a placebo.
“4. I have not had any physio at all. My trips to Israel were very short.
“5. Time for results. Clearly this is a long-term project but the MRI show signs of decrease in demyelination.”
I admire Mark’s determination to beat MS, I hope he wins.
Like Mark, I long for a cure but am not at all confident that one is around the corner. I will be ecstatic if I am proved wrong.
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.