New treatment options available locally for cancer, other diseases

Patients suffering from degenerative and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, Arthritis and Cancers, among others can now access stem cell therapy and immunotherapy treatment locally.

The Woodlands Hospital last weekend officially launched the treatments.

Dr. Pramod Tembe, Internal Medicine Specialist and Fellow in Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

Speaking with DPI, Dr. Pramod Tembe, Internal Medicine Specialist and Fellow in stem cell and regenerative medicine, said he has benefitted from the treatment and is happy to bring it here.

“I did this therapy in 2019 in India, and five years I am out of pain and my functional mobility has tremendously improved, so now it is my time to give it back to the society, especially to Guyana because I’m here for the past more than 18 years,” Dr Tembe said.

“I have gone through the pain, I don’t want any, so I can understand the patient with arthritis, patients with degenerative diseases, debilitating diseases so I could understand their pain,” he added.

How does it work?

Stem cells are unspecialised cells that can regenerate and grow into different lineages like forming muscle cells, heart cells or neurological cells based on the needs of the patients.

Stem cells can be found in various parts of the body like the bone marrow, the fat underneath the skin, in the umbilical cord, in the embryotic fluid, muscle, brain and other parts.

“The incredible capacity of the stem cell is to such an extent that because of the renewal properties and because of the regeneration property, if a patient has degenerative diseases like, neurological diseases, non-degenerative diseases or neo-developmental diseases for example Parkinson’s disease, Dementia, Alzheimer’s, ALS, a patient has a massive stroke, a patient is bedridden or in wheelchair, in these patients where there is no treatment as such, we can use the stem cells from the patient’s own body,” Dr Tembe explained.

After the blood sample is collected from the bone marrow, it is sent to a laboratory where it is converted into stem cells, certain ‘growth factors’ are added and then it is reinstalled into the patient’s body, so that it reaches a targeted organ.

After the cells start regenerating over a period of time, the person can be free of the disease.

“One thing I would like to emphasise, is that this treatment which we are going to offer, they are not going to, after I give the stem cells, tomorrow I’m going to start walking, it is not going to happen like that, remember these cells are very, very small and they grow over a period of time, six weeks to six months the patient would start to get the response slowly, because the growth of the cells is one millimetre per day,” Dr Tembe further explained.

Immunotherapy can also be used to treat a number of diseases including cancers by basically helping the immune system target the cancer cells and kill them.

“In woodlands hospital, what we are going to do is when we get such patient, we are going to take the blood sample, and then we are going to take the biopsy sample from the tumor, then we are going to, sensitise the tumor cells…basically we are going to teach these cells to identify those cancer cells and we are going to develop a receptor, not only that which is going to get attached to the T cells and we are going to multiply those T cells and then send them back into the body so they can find the cancer cells where they are hidden and kill them,” Dr Tembe stated.

Additionally, Dr Tembe disclosed that the Woodlands Hospital is currently in talks with government and insurance companies to be able to provide these treatment options at a more affordable cost than other countries. Woodlands is offering these options through a collaboration with Fidelity Healthcare Ltd, a registered medical company in Trinidad and Tobago.