Regenerative Medicine Institute, Mexico Reaches Three Year Milestone

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Study into effect of adult stem cells on disease continues.

Regenerative Medicine Institute, Mexico (RMI) recently hit the three year milestone in its clinical research trial of adult stem cells. The trial seeks to discover the impact of stem cells on degenerative conditions such as heart disease, COPD, vascular issues, orthopedic conditions, and other chronic health problems.

Regenerative Medicine is an institute of board certified, multi-specialty physicians working together to place a patient’s own stem cells (autologous) as close as possible to diseased organ or tissue. Utilizing specialized catheters makes this cutting-edge procedure less invasive than traditional treatments and doctors are able to get the stem cells to the most remote areas of the body. Patients are awake for the entire procedure, which usually lasts less than an hour.

At the age of 65, Dean Stokes feels as though RMI has given him a new lease on life. “I used to get up in the morning, get ready, and go to work. Now I get up in the morning, get ready, and go to the gym,” Stokes said.

Things were very different three years ago as Stokes recovered from a heart attack. Treated on June 10, 2010, Stokes was one of the first patients enrolled in the stem cell trial at RMI. “Once I got there, I felt extremely comfortable. The facility was first class. I could look out the window and see kids playing at school, and see parents waiting to pick their kids up.”

Stokes says that he felt better immediately after his stem cell procedure, both physically and mentally. Stokes took two walking tests the day prior to his stem cell treatment. He was able to walk 495 meters in the first session and 456 meters during the second. Three months later he was tested again. By then, he was able to walk 615 meters during one session, and 690 meters in another.

The very first patient to enroll in RMI’s trial was Lynn Munson. In a few short years, Munson says that her life became a shadow of what it had once been. COPD had robbed Munson of her health and ability to do the things she longed to do. "Going to Tijuana was a last-ditch effort,” Munson said. “I told my husband that I wanted to die at home, not in some airport. He encouraged me and promised to get me where I need to be quickly."

Today, Munson says that she doesn’t give much thought to being the first patient enrolled at RMI. "I'm just so thankful for the way I feel and the way I can breathe," she said.

Morton Farina is another trial participant. Although he underwent successful bypass surgery years ago, Farina suffered another heart attack 12 years later. He went to work discovering what his alternatives were. A physician friend suggested he look into RMI.

“We went down on a Sunday night. They did the liposuction the same night and injected stem cells directly into 27 different areas of my heart, using a catheter through the groin,” Farina said.

Months later, Farina was back at full-throttle, consulting with other pharmacists, teaching, and selling real estate. He seems to be taking it all in stride. “I feel fine, but I’m not surprised” Farina said. “I did my research and knew there was no downside.”

These were the results Dr. Javier Lopez, RMI's CEO, hoped to see when he first started the trial in 2010. "I had attended a stem cell conference and immediately understood that Regenerative Medicine is the future of medicine. I decided to insert myself, along with a wonderful team of physicians, into the middle of this exciting new era in healthcare," Lopez said.

Very early on, Dr. Lopez worked with Kristin Comella -- named one of the 50 most influential people on stem cells by The World Stem Cell Regenerative Medicine Congress -- to create an alliance with Bioheart Inc., a U.S. company dedicated to the development of effective cell technologies to treat cardiovascular diseases. RMI later allied with Ageless Regenerative Institute in order to more fully immerse itself in autologous adult stem cell research. Further, Dr. Lopez and RMI are members of several prestigious stem cell research organizations.

Former trial participant James Sims summed up his experience at RMI by saying, "The biggest thing I could think about before I went down there was that I wanted to die. If something couldn't help I wanted to get death over with. Now all I could think of was that I wanted to live. I just felt, deep down, that I was going to be better."

Dr. Lopez says that it is the experiences of trial participants that keep the team going, despite political and financial obstacles. "With every day that goes by I am more excited than ever to learn about these intelligent cells. Our stem cells are able to be placed in different parts of the human body in order to repair damaged tissue. So far, the results are more than anything we ever dreamed of."

RMI was recently accepted as a clinical site for Bioheart Incorporated's ANGEL Trail, a Phase I study to determine the safety and effects of adipose derived stem cells in patients with chronic heart ischemia.

"We see many opportunities in 2013 and for years to come," Dr. Lopez said. "We will soon be announcing a new, important alliance with a top research institution in the tissue engineering and stem cell field."

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