Debbie Bertrand was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2001 after experiencing a number of troubling symptoms that made it difficult for her to walk and use her hands. Eventually dependent upon a wheelchair but unwilling to simply accept her prognosis, Debbie researched different treatment options and even looked into participating in four different stem cell clinical trials. Unfortunately, she was denied each time, either due to her age or because the trial was closed.
In 2011, Debbie and her husband, Larry, were approached by a church member who recommended Celltex Therapeutics Corporation – a Houston-based biotechnology company with a proprietary technology that can isolate and expand adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in quantities never before possible for therapeutic application. Debbie received an infusion of hundreds of millions of her own adult stem cells, and within a few months, was able to walk using a walker. She was also able to regain use of her hands. Still, Debbie acknowledges that stem cell therapy is not a cure, but a strategy to help improve her quality of life.
In May 2015, Debbie received her third round of adult stem cell therapy (using her own stem cells expanded by Celltex) at Hospital Galenia in Cancun, Mexico. Since then, Debbie reports noticeable improvements in her stamina and walking gait.
“After we returned from Cancun, I waited a few weeks to let my stem cells do their work. Then my doctor prescribed six weeks of physical therapy to improve my functional mobility. The first day assessment compared to the last day assessment shows that my Berg Balance score improved from a 32 to a 44/56.” According to the Berg Balance Scale, a score of 44 has been shown to be an appropriate cut-off for safe independent ambulation and the need for assistive devices or supervision.
Debbie and her husband now exercise at the gym twice a week from 45 minutes to an hour. Debbie says she wants to increase that to three times a week. “I am standing straight, my back is stronger and I’m walking twice as fast as I used to,” she says. She also reports feeling her left foot for the first time in years.
Perhaps most encouraging of all, Debbie’s recent MRI scans (with and without contrast) show no enhanced plaque on lesions of the brain, neck and spine. Her doctor, Djamchid Lotfi, M.D., a London University graduate and Neurologist, explains:
“The MRI is consistent with the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. At this time, the MRI results show that the plaques in her spine are inactive, and have been inactive for some months. This is a good sign and gives some confidence about the state of the disease.”
Dr. Lotfi has overseen human clinical trials using adult stem cell therapy and says, “There was enough merit there to continue. It was safe and, in most of the cases, the therapy prevented participants from getting worse. In other cases, it improved them. I genuinely believe this is the future of medicine, though many cases like Mrs. Bertrand’s would be considered anecdotal by medical professionals like myself. Stem cell therapy is a novel way of approaching disease management, and, in the future, may be used to fine tune the immune system and help degenerative diseases.”
The Bertrand family continues to champion adult stem cell banking and therapy in hopes of seeing the FDA provide approval so that Americans will have a new, more accessible option in improving their quality of life.
“I am very happy with the results I have seen – not only do I have my doctor’s blessing, I have never experienced any negative side effects. I still take one oral drug for MS, but I haven’t had daily injections for MS in four years. I hope to see this process help others in my situation, and I am thankful to Celltex for bringing this technology to the United States,” she says.