Medical experts say stem cell is potential cure for cancer

FILIPINO doctors and specialists are supporting a bill seeking to establish a stem cell research center to help Filipino cancer patients in the country.

Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology said the establishment of a stem cell research and storage center will be a great help in promoting stem cell treatment in the country.

Appearing before the recent hearing of the House body, Dr. Samuel Bernal, a leading figure in stem cell and a cancer survivor himself, said the establishment of a stem cell research center is a first step in helping those in dire need especially those who cannot afford an expensive treatment.

National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) Deputy Executive Director Dr. Dante Dator told the lawmakers that all human beings come from stem cell and with its capability to transform itself has the potential benefits of providing cures for illnesses.

Dr. Marita Reyes, Vice Chairman of the Philippine Health Research Ethics Board and former faculty of the University of the Philippines Biochemistry Department, said current applications for stem cell products in the United States include replacement for bone harvesting in spine fusion surgery, bone growth and void fill in fresh fractures and bone growth and void fill in non-union fractures.

Reyes said the Makati Medical Center; St. Luke’s Medical Center, Kidney Center, and Medical City are also involved in the stem cell therapy and research.

“Stem cell treatments should undergo clinical trials and proven to be safe and effective prior to release in the market after noting that stem cell therapy is offered as part of dermatological services in some malls,” said Dr. Mark Pierre Dimamay of St. Luke’s Center for Stem Cell Research and Biotechnology Division.

Rep. Eufranio Eriguel (2nd district, La Union), a physician and principal author of  House Bill 1977, said the bill will promote research and human clinical trials using stem cells that are ethically obtained and show evidence of benefits for human patients.

“It will make the country a place for open scientific inquiry and technological innovation, and even promote investment and generate jobs,” Eriguel said.

Eriguel said stem cell therapy is very expensive and only a few physicians are licensed to do the procedure in the Philippines.

Studies show that stem cells can be used in bone marrow transplantation and peripheral blood stem cell transplantation. Both of these procedures are used to restore stem cells that have been destroyed by high dose chemotherapy. These treatments using stem cells may also be used for patients who have had radiation treatment for
their cancer .


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