Philippines Investigating 3 Politician Deaths Allegedly From Stem Cells in Germany

The Philippines Medical Association (PMA) is reportedly (article from ABS-CBN News) investigating the recent deaths of 3 prominent politicians due to stem cell therapies via stem cell tourism in Germany at an as yet unidentified clinic.

The names of the politicians are unknown, but strangely enough today there’s another separate article on stem cells from the Philippine Daily Inquirer that mentions 3 politicians who have received stem cell treatments:

A number of politicians have been reported to have used stem cell therapy, including former President Joseph Estrada, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former Sen. Ernesto Maceda.

Of course these men may not be the politicians referred to in the ABS-CBN piece. Maceda was quoted:

“I am now convinced that my stem cell therapy is effective and that’s the reason why I’ve been able to keep up with the rigorous campaign schedule,” he said. “I feel 20 years younger.”

In the past the German stem cell clinic X-cell was notorious for being linked to a baby’s death.

PMA president Dr. Leo Olarte commented on the more recent case:

“They were given stem cells from sheep, rabbits and animals. They died after one year, they had late hypersensitivity reaction,” he said.

It sounds like a very horrible situation. More information is needed to get the bottom of this.

The ABS-CBN Foundation, presumably the outfit responsible for ABS-CBN News that reported the 3 politician deaths, is an advocacy group of some kind in the Philippines that works with Olarte ( see him with Gina Lopez, Managing Director of ABS-CBN in the pic below).

Olarte stem cells in Philippines

Stem cells are generating a lot of buzz in the Philippines and apparently stem cell interventions of various kinds are becoming more common including a supposed aphrodisiac stem cell potion called Soup. No. 7. Thus, efforts to reign in dangerous stem cell interventions there are very important. At the same time some in the Philippines such as Olarte want to promote stem cell tourism as well it seems. It’s a fine line to walk

For example, in commenting to ABS-CBN News in the same article as about the German deaths, Olarte seems to be playing up the state of stem cell interventions in that country more generally:

Olarte said the country already has experts, who are members of the Philippine Society for Stem Cell Medicine (PSSCM), competent to perform the treatment in the Philippines.

“We have more or less 400 specialists,” he said, even noting that the stem cell treatment in the country is much cheaper by 50% than what is being sold abroad.

I’m not so convinced that even these supposedly okay stem cell “treatments” promoted by Olarte are proven safe or effective either even if they are cheaper.

The deaths of the three politicians in Germany are disturbing news and highlight the care that must be taken in regulating stem cell interventions to keep patients safe.

10 thoughts on “Philippines Investigating 3 Politician Deaths Allegedly From Stem Cells in Germany”

  1. Pingback: Cells Weekly – June 30, 2013 | Stem Cell Assays

  2. Pingback: Stem Cell Storm Builds in the Philippines | Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog

  3. Pingback: Commenter Claims XCell-Center Stem Cell Clinic Got a Bad Rap, Provides New Details | Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog

  4. As a Russian, I am ashamed to read a response from “Russomaha”… Looks like a lot of bulling and nothing constructive. And the tone of that message is not scientific at all.
    Per my poor knowledge, there were places in Russia, where ES cells were used to treat patients unofficially. But I have no proof, just rumors.

  5. Russomaha, Gulo Gulo

    Hi Paul,

    Just have read your 2 consequent articles about Phillippine deaths” from SC tourism in Germany”, now allgedly from Russian stem cells. Are you brave enough to be responsible for your words? I will investigate.

    And if turns that you have no direct proof of that allegation, you will see what happen. As we say in Russia “za bazar otvetish’ “. Scientifically of course. Show that expression to your Rissian speaking post-docs. There are other Russian proverbs: “ne sri, tuda, otkuda zhryosh “, that’s about your post-docs. The other one is “ne ssy, gde ran’she spal”. It’s about your last name, sounds pretty GERMAN to me.

    So Paul, you have 2 weeks to prove or disprove your claim about exactly Russian orgin of those stem cells the Philippine politicians died from (is that what the Philippine sources said explicitly or it’s just your sick imagination?), and that that was the exaxtly the cause of those deaths. If you do that, I wil be happy to apologize. But if you don’t, I will hunt you down like a mad dog. Scientifically, of course. Californai is just across the Pond…

    Russomaha, a Russian scientist of Amur river Cossack origin, and a spec in SC research.

  6. Philippine political officials ( and families) are assasinated on a regular basis by opponents. This begs the larger question.

  7. Brian Sanderson

    To be scientifically correct, it must be made clear that X-cell used an autologous marrow-derived MSC treatment — not the transplantation of cells from other species.

    Also, as far as I can determine, it was bleeding associated with the injection proceedure that caused the death at X-cell — not the injected cells. To be strictly scientific, one should compare the rates of misshap with other similar injection proceedures that do not involve autologous stem cells.

    I can’t imagine that any thinking person would go for a trans-species stem cell therapy. But you are talking about (allegedly) politician’s, in this latter case.

    Patients are done a diservice when all stem cells are lumped into the legislative drug box — as though all things are the same. It does not help us ordinary people (and politicians) to weigh risk.

    1. The XCell-Center primarily used autologous CD34+ stem cells from bone marrow. The cells were spun out (not expanded) in a certified GMP lab. Very few MSCs are found in the bone marrow.

      To set the record straight, that particular patient died neither from stem cells nor from their injection. The death resulted from bleeding that was caused by the neurosurgeon while attempting to surgically open a brain ventricle blockage. Stem cells were never injected into that patient. Even though brain injections represented a tiny fraction of procedures performed at XCell, I strongly disagreed with their use and my opinion on that remains unchanged today.

      The vast majority of patients were treated systemically and/or intrathecally depending on their particular disease or disorder. Some were treated via cardiac catheter by a licensed, experienced cardiologist in a cath lab, the standards of which, along with the rest of XCell’s treatment facilities, met or surpassed those found at US facilities. Many orthopedic conditions were treated by injecting the cells into the affected joint(s), a procedure not unlike XXXX US orthopedists routinely use in the US today.

      Despite the bad rap the XCell gets from reporters, bloggers and certain patient forums with axes to grind, for the most part, XCell did nothing more than treat patients with their own bone-marrow derived stem cells under pristine lab conditions in world-class treatment facilities.

      It goes without saying that their upper management left a lot to be desired, to say the least. However, at least in my somewhat more informed opinion than almost anyone else, XCell does not deserve the categorical bad rap it routinely gets unless one believes that no patient should be treated with their own bone marrow-derived stem cells for things like arthritis, MS, heart conditions, knee problems, COPD, etc.

      Note: XXXX = comment edited here by admin

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