Diabetics, cancer patients can now get stem cell, immuno-therapy treatment in Guyana

Last Updated on Sunday, 5 February 2023, 18:24 by Denis Chabrol

Internal Medicine Consultant at Woodlands Dr Pramod Tembe addressing the launch of Stem cell and Immuno-therapy at the Woodlands Hospital. Among those seated were Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony and President Irfaan Ali.

Persons suffering from  cancers, diabetes, heart and other non-communicable diseases will now able to receive life-saving immuno-therapy and stem cell treatment in Guyana for the first time, officials said on Saturday.

Those types of regenerative medical treatment, which are now being offered by Woodland’s Hospital in association with the Trinidad-headquartered Fidelity Healthcare Ltd, were launched on Saturday evening at Woodland’s Hospital.

“At Woodlands Ltd., we are initially offering autologous dendritic cell therapy-based Immunotherapy which is approved for use in several countries across the globe given its demonstrated effectiveness in increasing survival rates of patients with cancer.

Managing Director of Woodlands Ltd; Dr Neville Gobin said immuno-therapy stem cell treatment have both “revolutionised the treatment of cancer and chronic non-communicable diseases.”

Internal Medicine Consultant at Woodlands Dr Pramod Tembe said stem cell therapy could be used to treat leukemias, Parkinson’s Disease, dementia, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), heart diseases, and diabetes.  He forecast that in future there would be stem cell banks where persons could buy their own stem cells to treat their diseases. Dr Tembe said artificial cells would be made in the laboratory and introduced into the body “to kill the cancer cells.” Also in future, Woodlands would be providing a blood test to diagnose the cancer  so that doctors could take action right away.

President Irfaan Ali addressing the launch of Stem cell and Immuno-therapy at the Woodlands Hospital.

“Through our collaboration with Fidelity Healthcare Ltd we will work to harness the therapeutic benefit of autologous bone marrow derived stem cells and Mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of chronic diseases like diabetes, autoimmune diseases, muscular dystrophy, orthopedic disorders, stroke, amyotrophic Lateral sclerosis, pulmonary fibrosis, COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and spinal cord injury, among others,” Woodlands Hospital said.

He said he turned to stem cell therapy after suffering  from a painful  autoimmune disease that eventually affected his spine since he was 16 years old. He said since taking autologous transplant of his bone marrow that was injected into his spine in 2019, he has no pain and “almost disease free” with 75 percent of his spinal mobility.

Dr Tembe said the stem cell therapy for  prostate , colorectal and gastric cancers would not only kill those malignant cells but also seek them out if they return.

Director of NOVO Cellular Medicine Institute – Fidelity Healthcare Ltd, Trinidad & Tobago, Chandan R Bora said when babies are born, their stem cells could be stored or  stem cells of adults could be stored for months or years until they are needed. He said the cost of the therapy is 50 percent less than in the United States although the standards and quality are the same.

Dr Bora said the quality of life of even stage four cancer patients has improved after taking immuno-therapy.

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony told the launch of the stem cell and immuno-therapy that Guyana was aiming to become  sub-Western Hemispheric leader in stem cell treatment and immuno-therapy that are specific to patients. “We, as a government, recognise that this is going to be a potential area for growth and we want to be one of the places in the Caribbean and for that matter in Latin America where we can be pioneering this kind of technology,” he said.  Guyana one year ago passed legislation to allow for transplants and regenerative medicine which includes stem cells. The Health Minister said government would “provide that enabling environment” for stem cell treatment in this South American nation. “We have started with the legislation and we would do whatever else is necessary to make sure that this is done properly in Guyana,” he said, adding that Guyana could become a destination for patients to get that form of therapy.

Dr Anthony said a number of persons have expressed an interest in establish laboratories in Guyana to manufacture stem cells because this country “is ready for this type of medicine.”