TAMPA, FLA. Sept. 1, 2016 – Joseph O. visited the Lung Institute in Tampa, Fla., to receive adult stem cell therapy for pulmonary fibrosis in March of 2015, and his results surprised his pulmonologist. When pulmonary fibrosis made Joseph’s life a daily struggle, he knew he had to find another option. On oxygen 24/7, walking up a flight of stairs was a challenge, having a conversation while standing was out of the question and even brushing his teeth required sitting down. Stem cell therapy from the Lung Institute helped Joseph restore his quality of life.
“My oxygen level is steady at 98-99, where it was in the 80s before,” he said. “I haven’t seen oxygen in over six months. Haven’t touched it. I was on oxygen 24 hours a day, and now, zero.”
At the time of Joseph’s follow-up call with the Lung Institute, he had a CT scan three weeks prior, revealing that the inflammation in his lungs was gone. “My pulmonologist is blown away,” he said.
Joseph’s doctor’s astonishment at the procedure’s success is not unusual. His doctor had told him that his disease was terminal, and there was not much hope. Many doctors are skeptical of the clinical application of stem cells for lung disease, simply because advancements in the field have been so recent. However, skeptics need only witness the success of investigational treatments, such as Joseph’s, to have their position turned upside down.
With next month’s FDA hearing regarding stem cell regulation on the horizon, there has been some debate over the clinical application of stem cell therapy. While some researchers are pushing for more research over clinical practice, many patients are sharing stories about how stem cells have essentially saved their lives, and are now working in conjunction with many senators, hoping to pass legislation that makes stem cell therapy more affordable and accessible to the general public.
The House of Representatives has already passed its version of the legislation, and the Senate is hoping to pass 19 bills before President Barack Obama leaves office. House Speaker Paul Ryan has agreed to hold a conference on the subject this fall in hopes to push the legislation forward.
In a recent interview with Fox News, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander said, “So you would think, that if president Obama, the Republican House and a bipartisan Senate all are for this, we can get it done. That’s why I’m optimistic.”
Legislators are optimistic about making stem cell therapy more accessible and affordable to the general public. However, not all stem cell clinics are equal. Some important things to look for in a stem cell clinic include: treatment of specific diseases versus a broad range of applications, outcomes data collection and publication and third-party supervision, such as oversight by an institutional review board.
Joseph is one of many Lung Institute patients who have experienced an improvement in their quality of life after receiving adult stem cell therapy for pulmonary fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or another chronic lung disease. According to the Lung Institute’s in-house pilot study, 82 percent of patients saw an improvement in their quality of life. Stem cell therapy is not a cure for pulmonary fibrosis; however, for many patients with chronic lung diseases, stem cell therapy has the potential to improve patients’ quality of life.
Before investigational treatment at the Lung Institute, Joseph was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a deadly lung disease that falls into a larger group of lung diseases called interstitial lung diseases. Pulmonary fibrosis is characterized by the permanent scarring of lung tissue. About 140,000 Americans have been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, typically affecting people ages 50-75.
There are a number of potential causes of pulmonary fibrosis, including exposure to airborne toxins, undergoing radiation treatment, genetics and taking certain medications. However, sometimes doctors are unable to identify a specific cause. When a cause is not found or the disease occurs spontaneously, the disease is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Approximately 50,000 new cases of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis are diagnosed each year, claiming the lives of nearly 40,000 people annually.
Because Joseph refused to accept his original prognosis, he found the courage to try a different option, and now looks forward to the future. “I feel like a million dollars,” he said. Stem cell therapy for pulmonary fibrosis provides patients with another option where, in traditional medicine, there are none.
About the Lung Institute
The Lung Institute is a leading medical provider of regenerative cellular therapy for lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis and interstitial lung disease in the United States. To date the organization has treated over 2,000 patients, 82 percent of which report an improved quality of life. Founded in 2013 in Tampa, Fla., the Lung Institute currently has clinics in Nashville, Tenn., Scottsdale, Ariz., and Pittsburgh, Pa., and Dallas, Texas. For more information, please visit lunginstitute.com or call (800) 382-8095.