Tuberculosis of the brain and subsequent seizures in 2008 had left army aspirant Sagar Kanthe (23) paralysed. The Mulund resident could not turn in bed, had to be fed and lost his speech. The pain in his muscles also made him violent.
Two rounds of stem cell therapy later, he is calmer, can say ‘Om’ and puts roti pieces, broken by his mother, into his mouth. He can’t stand, walk or talk. But the improvements have thrilled his family. “We had lost hope. Now, he smiles at least,” said his father Uday.
Kanthe is among a growing number of people opting for stem cell therapy, a fairly new treatment in which stem cells removed from the patient’s own body are infused into damaged tissue to repair it.
Two city-based stem cell therapy centres — NeuroGen Brain and Spine Institute in Chembur and Stem Cell Genetic Research Centre in Sion Hospital — are getting patients from all over.
“Sixty per cent of patients have reported improvement in condition,” said Dr Nandini Gokulchandran from NeuroGen.
Stem cell therapy is an established cure for blood cancer and thalassemia. However, American doctors still do not prescribe it as its research was banned by the Bush government.
Practitioners say there is nothing wrong with offering the therapy to those with incurable conditions. Independent experts, however, are skeptical. “One can’t validate this therapy because there is no other treatment available. There is not enough evidence of its efficacy,” said Bombay Hospital’s neurologist Dr Satish Khadilkar.