by Carol Sieverling
Paul Cheney, MD, PhD has accompanied two groups of CFS/ME patients to
stem cells clinics in Costa Rica and Panama this year, and many more
will be going to Panama this fall. The stem cells come from the
afterbirth (placenta and umbilical cord) of healthy new born infants and
are thus considered adult stem cells, not fetal. Future patients will
also be given their own stem cells derived from belly fat in addition to
the afterbirth stem cells.
Though it's early yet to know the full benefit of the stem cell
transfusions or how long such benefits will last, initial results range
from good to spectacular. This has prompted several CFS/ME patients to
seek out stem cell therapy on their own.
Dr. Cheney has three concerns regarding CFS/ME patients undergoing stem
1) Re-Boot Gene Expression with Cell Signaling Factors
Dr. Cheney believes that better and longer lasting results will be
obtained from stem cell therapy if patients first shift or "re-boot"
their gene expression to a more normal genetic expression. "Gene
expression" may not make sense to some, so here's a simple explanation.
Individual genes are either "on" or "off". If they are off, something
may trigger them into turning on, such as diet, environmental exposures,
pathogens, toxins, stress, etc. Once on, it's a matter of degree, like a
dimmer switch. They can be on just a little, on moderately, or on all
In all chronic illnesses, the body attempts to compensate or adapt to
the illness. Doing so shifts the gene expression. The gene expression of
a person with CFS/ME is far from normal - it reflects the illness. The
overall gene expression is difficult to change. Even if you address the
underlying cause(s) of an illness, it can take months or even years for
the body to realize the illness is gone and allow the gene expression to
gradually shift back to normal.
A great example of this is Dr. Cheney's own heart transplant made
necessary by a diagnosis of idiopathic cardiomyopathy. After two years
of increasingly severe symptoms, the underlying problem of heart failure
was corrected surgically in a matter of hours. However, even after an
outstandingly successful transplant, a resulting cardiac output of
someone in their 20's, and time to recover from the surgery itself, Dr.
Cheney's functional capacity was still very much what it had been before
the transplant. He asked his doctors why he still felt so incapacitated.
One doctor told him, "Well, your body adapted to the reality of a
failing heart in order to survive and now that your heart is fixed, it
will take a year or two for your body to re-adapt back to the reality of
your new heart."
In other words, all chronic illness always has two problems to solve:
the problem at the core of the illness and the adaptation the body makes
to survive. The first can sometimes be fixed very quickly (hours to
weeks) but the latter takes time. There is no "hours to weeks fix" to
the second problem of adaptation because it becomes programmed into
one's gene expression, also known as phenotype.
Since his surgery and adaptive cure from heart failure, Dr. Cheney has
found that certain low molecular weight peptides called Cell Signaling
Factors (CSF's) have the ability to more quickly shift gene expression
towards normal as measured by echocardiography. CSF's can often improve
function within 90 days, though tests results show progress well before
the patient actually experiences it. For instance, measurements of
cardiac diastolic function typically improve months before patients
report feeling better and doing more. There is also the problem of
genotype corruption which can only be addressed by stem cells.
Over the last three or four years he has determined which CSFs are most
beneficial to CFS/ME patients. He does not order them from a company,
but has arranged for his own private production of heart, pancreas,
liver and kidney from the respective organs of bison. The brain CSF,
also privately produced, is of porcine (pig) origin. The CSF's are in a
cream-like form and are typically rubbed into the forearms three times
per week to daily.
The use of bison as the primary source for the CSF's stems from several
factors. Bison are incredibly aerobic animals with vast aerobic
energetic potential. They are significantly more organic than virtually
any other meat source. Finally, they are only one of two known animals
who never get cancer, the other being shark. They also live three to
four times longer than beef cattle and they do not have "mad-cow"
disease, though skin cream makes this a non-issue. Finally, bison CSF's
are 50-100% more potent than comparable porcine or bovine CSF's, as
measured on echo.
Dr. Cheney uses adrenal and thymus CSF's for testing purposes only -
never for treatment. CFS/ME patients respond very negatively to them,
usually with a major drop in energy on echo. Adrenal and thymus CSF's
should never be taken by CFS/ME patients. Porcine Liver also has a very
negative effect in CFS patients and should not be used either for therapy.
Dr. Cheney is the only source of CSF's made from bison because at this
time he feels that they need to be used only under the care of a medical
professional familiar with their use. For this reason, he only sells
them to his own patients. He plans to also sell them to a few other
physicians who are currently learning about their use, how to
incorporate appropriate pretreatments, and how to individualize the CSF
protocol for their patients. Information about the physicians who have
access to the CSF's and know how to use them will soon be posted on the
Cheney Clinic web site (cheneyclinic.com).
There is anecdotal evidence that the use of CSF's can significantly
improve the benefits of stem cells. An 80-year-old man with Parkinson's
Disease as well as Coronary Artery Heart Disease (history of two heart
attacks) was part of the group that received four consecutive daily
transfusions totaling 45 million stem cells the last week of May. (He
does not have CFS/ME but is related to one of the CFS/ME patients.) He'd
been using four of the CSF's for 18 months. While still in Panama
receiving the stem cells, the tremors began disappearing and he was able
to hold a fork and eat peas for the first time in two years.
One week after his last transfusion, an echo revealed that an area of
his left ventricle (a chamber of the heart) that prior to the stem cell
transfusions was dead and not moving, was now alive and moving. At that
time he also had much less hand tremor, was walking more upright with
much less shuffle and swinging his legs much better when he walked. He
threw away his cane. The allergic bags under his eyes disappeared. He
looks, acts and talks as if he were 10 years younger. His face is pink
now rather than pale and gray. He is more alert and doesn't slur his
words. He feels much better and has much less foot edema. He even went
back to work part-time.
The doctors at the Stem Cell Institute, who are familiar with
Parkinson's cases, were astonished at the degree of benefit he
experienced, and so quickly. They are very intrigued by the potential of
CSF's to increase the benefits of stem cells.
Three studies* of patients who received stem cell transplants in the
90's revealed that despite initial success, about ten years later the
stem cells had been corrupted and the patients' disease returned. Though
the stem cells worked as expected and lasted 10 years, they were
eventually corrupted by the same disease process that damaged the very
cells they were replacing.
Dr. Cheney believes that CSF's are necessary both before and after the
transfusions to increase both effectiveness and durability of the stem
cells. According to Dr. Cheney, "Putting stem cells into a corrupted
environment will eventually corrupt the stem cells and blunt their
otherwise potentially impressive benefits." To use another of Dr.
Cheney's analogies, if you correct the "software" problem first (shift
phenotype with CSF's) and then address the "hardware" issue (shift
genotype with stem cells), you'll get much better results. You don't
expose a new hard drive to corrupted software programs, or the system
will crash again! This is why he recommends that his patients continue
to use the CSF's even after the stem cell transfusions. Doing so is
designed to prevent the gene expression from shifting back to the
configuration of the original illness and corrupting the stem cells.
2) Care must be given to a corrupted gut ecology before receiving stem
Recent publications, especially by Kenny DeMeirleir out of Belgium, as
well as others, suggest that corrupted gut ecology is playing a very
large role in a subset of the sickest CFS/ME patients. This corruption
must be addressed or it may thwart the effects of stem cells or degrade
their benefits over time. The gut ecology must be measured by
appropriate tests (such as the GI  panel from Diagnos-Techs,
diagnostechs.com) and an integrated effort made to reduce the effects of
this corrupted gut ecology on CFS/ME physiology. Stem cells can help
attack the root causes of this corruption but the gut corruption and its
consequences need to be minimized ahead of the stem cell transfusions.
The core approach to improving the gut ecology is a modified elimination
diet, copious use of digestive enzymes, immune support using bovine
derived antibodies and immune factors (colostrum) and the judicious and
careful use of probiotics with special attention to support of commensal
E.Coli (a beneficial form of E.Coli marketed as Mutaflor).
3) Go to a high quality stem cell clinic affiliated with a US company.
Dr. Cheney's third concern is the quality of the stem cell laboratory
and clinic doing the stem cell transfusions. Dr. Cheney chose MediStem,
Inc (medisteminc.com), only after careful research and consideration of
quality control issues. Medistem Inc. is a US-based company that assists
in the operation of two clinics in Central America (cellmedicine.com)
because those locations allow them to offer the treatment at a quarter
of the cost of the same treatment in a clinic in the United States.
Dr. Cheney met with Neil Riordan PhD, the laboratory director and CEO of
both clinics, and toured their facilities in Costa Rica and Panama
before taking patients there. The clinic in Panama is located near, and
its doctors associated with, the newest and best hospital in that
country. The Punta Pacifica Hospital (hospitalpuntapacifica.com) is
located in downtown Panama City and is professionally tied to the
Johns-Hopkins University Medical Center. There is, however, no direct
association of the stem cell clinic to Johns-Hopkins.
The clinic stem cell laboratory, which produces the afterbirth derived
stem cells used in treatment, is located in The City of Knowledge in the
former US Canal Zone. Before a company can be established in this
prestigious high technology development site, a thorough vetting process
and due diligence approval from the Panamanian government is required.
The fact that the laboratory is located here signifies its high
standards and excellent quality control.
Touring a stem cell clinic and meeting its clinical staff is not the way
to judge the level of treatment one will receive. The key to evaluating
the quality of stem cells used and the effectiveness of the treatment
received is to be found in the laboratory and its quality control
operations, as well as the expertise of the laboratory personnel. Bear
in mind that the laboratory and the clinic may be located in separate
buildings, perhaps even very separate areas of a city.
There are serious concerns about stem cell clinics operating in Mexico
and elsewhere. There are many bad actors and poor actors. Some actually
transfuse patients with saline and claim that it's stem cells. Others
have no quality control and do not test the viability of their stem
cells, which means they may have little power to effect healing. Poor
quality control could also lead to lack of sterile procedures and at
worst patients could end up with no stem cells and an infection!
Dr. Cheney strongly recommends that clinics and their laboratories in
Mexico and elsewhere be carefully scrutinized, especially their quality
control procedures, personnel and capitalization. Good stem cell
laboratories require millions of dollars to capitalize and cost over a
hundred thousand dollars per month to run just for laboratory expenses.
They require deep pockets and a decade or more of expertise in the area
of quality stem cell production and propagation from afterbirth.
Significant capitalization acts to ensure quality control to protect the
investment of millions of dollars.
Adult stem cell therapy holds immense hope and possibilities for CFS/ME,
but requires a significant investment. Prospective patients should
consider such a major investment very carefully and make decisions that
ensure the safest, most effective, and longest lasting treatment possible.
For more information about the Cheney Clinic and Dr. Cheney's research,
see http://www.cheneyclinic.com and http://www.cheneyresearch.com
* Kordower JH et al. Mov Disord 2008 Dec 15; 23:2303
Nat Med 2008; 14:501 and 504 (two separate articles)
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