Professor John Rasko says there’s a loophole in Australia’s regulation allowing doctors to use unproven treatments on patients using their own stem cells. He says it’s paving the way for 'cowboy doctors’ who are charging big money for experimental therapies. The clinical hematologist says new stem cell treatments first need to be proven safe and effective through clinical trials, so that everyone, no matter their financial situation, can benefit.
Dr Ralph Bright is a cosmetic surgeon who performs therapy using stem cells taken from a patient’s fat deposits. Inspired by pre-clinical trials showing positive results in arthritic dogs, he has been applying the treatment to patients suffering osteoarthritis, motor neurone disease and Parkinson’s disease. Ralph says using your own stem cells is low risk. 'Just because we don’t know the science behind it doesn’t mean to say that it doesn’t work."
Kristy Cruise & Jodi Russell
Kristy Cruise and Jodi Russell both have multiple sclerosis. Kristy travelled to Russia last year for a risky stem cell transplant procedure which isn’t offered widely in Australia. 'I didn’t want to waste years becoming more disabled and trialling multiple drugs with side effects and risks," she says. After hearing about Kristy’s results, Jodi is now planning on going to Russia too. 'I’ve got nothing left to lean on. I need some hope and light at the end of the tunnel."
Perry Cross & Matt Battista
Perry Cross and Matt Battista have both tried highly experimental stem cell treatments for their devastating spinal cord injuries – with very different outcomes. Perry says his treatments in India have given him some improved movement in his diaphragm and shoulder. However, Matt’s treatment in Germany made no difference. Both men want more funding for clinical trials in Australia. 'If I sit around and wait for the government to fund the doctor that’s going to cure me, I’ll probably be dead," Perry says.