Procedure uses body’s own marrow cells in spinal fluid
By Ben Tinsley
DALLAS — Malia Litman was having great difficulty dealing with multiple sclerosis.
Her symptoms kept worsening. Her right foot dragged along the ground. Showering was so tiring she had to sleep afterward.
Desperate for relief, Litman found herself drawn to the groundbreaking stem-cell research of Professor Dimitrios Karussis, director of the Center for Multiple Sclerosis at Hadassah Medical Center in Israel.
She eventually underwent that treatment — with dramatic results.
Litman shared her story with more than 100 people who packed into a Tuesday, May 24, luncheon at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas. The Dallas Chapter of Hadassah sponsored the event.
Karussis — whose clinical trials began in 2011 — has come up with an adult stem cell self-transplantation treatment. The process involves the harvesting of stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow, their culture and enhancement, and injecting them into that patient’s cerebrospinal fluid.
This groundbreaking research has been responsible for successfully treating cases of both multiple sclerosis and ALS. Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable and often disabling autoimmune disease. ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease.
After Litman underwent Karussis’ stem cell treatment, the improvements were fairly immediate.
“After my first stem cell infusion I realized immediate benefits, including improvement in speech, enhanced strength in my weakest leg, and improvement in fine motor skills,” Litman explained in her blog. “However, the greatest change was a profound difference in fatigue. Upon returning from Israel, instead of being jet-lagged I was energized.”
After the meeting, Karussis acknowledged that the stem-cell trials have been progressing well and could very well be the future of treating diseases such as MS and ALS.
However, he added, the research is still ongoing.
“We cannot say we have found the proof and the cure — definitely not yet,” Karussis told the TJP. “But we’re seeing the patients, some of them, gaining improvement in functions that were lost for years.”
Karussis, a neuroimmunological expert, serves as the chair of Israel’s Neuroimmunological Society. He represents Israel on various European forums for MS research and treatment.
While the results are encouraging, Karussis said his studies and research must continue.
“I’m trying to remain objective and scientific and we don’t yet have all the proof,” he said.