Larry North has been helping people become healthy for over 25 years. He’s done this with three best-selling books, seminars, and gyms. These people were no different than you. The only difference is that they chose to make a change in their life. Now it’s your turn. Don’t put it off any longer. Let Larry help you become an even better you. Here’s Larry North.
Larry: Hey everyone. We had a cold front. It went from 105 degrees down to 97. It was really like a cool breeze for everyone in North Texas. This is the Better You show. I’m just thrilled! I’m always seeking to help you in my quest to deliver the best experts, the best guests, the best technology, the best medical advice that you could possibly get; be it exercise or nutrition, and of course your health. My guest is Dr. Neil Riordan, chairman of MedStem out of Panama. There’s so much to talk about. He’s published dozens and dozens of scientific articles, [and] internally peer reviewed journals. He’s just a cutting edge expert when it comes to stem cells. In fact, he and his colleagues have published articles together on MS, spinal cord injuries, heart failure, arthritis, autism. He’s also CEO of Riordan-McKenna Institute right here in Southlake. So he’s local, but he’s actually more international that he is local. Just happens to be close by, consults with numerous universities, and I consider him a friend. You flew in from Wichita, which is where you’re from, right?
NR: Yeah, that’s my hometown. We were doing a fund raiser for a young man who has Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, and originally we started treating him in Panama using stem cells from umbilical cords, and he responded very well, and he responds each time he gets treated, but we have to keep treating him. It’s a very long-term treatment. He has to get new cells every 4-6 months. He is the first person in the US to get umbilical cord stem cells for any indication, and we’re under the FDA. They’ve given us an investigational new drug, compassionate use, because he was treated seven times out of the country, but they gave us the green light for him to get treated in the country. He’s been treated now three years, every four months now, and when he gets those stem cells his breathing goes up, everything improves. In fact, now, eight years later since his first treatment, he’s in better health now than he was at 22, and he’s about 30 and a half.
Larry: I’ve been around you long enough and I’ve heard these types of stories, I really hope we can inspire a lot of our listeners. I’d like to start from the beginning. Your father was really kind of a holistic pioneer when it came to better health, was he not?
NR: Absolutely. My father and later myself, we did a lot of work on cancer therapy, and what we worked most on was intravenous vitamin C for cancer treatment, decades ago, back when that was really quackery. Now we have universities like Thomas Jefferson starting their third clinical trial using intravenous vitamin C for cancer patients, university of Iowa, even Johns Hopkins has started a study. Some of these ideas take time to catch on, but they’re really catching on now.
Larry: What was it like growing up with a father so cutting edge, so way ahead of his time?
NR: I think in retrospect now I realize how brave he was in doing the things he was doing. As my brother says, you can recognize a pioneer by the arrows in his back. He certainly had a few, but I think his legacy is that those arrows were unwarranted, and now you have major universities carrying on the research. The quality of life of cancer patients when they get intravenous vitamin C has improved. It’s been proven. More and more literature comes out, and he’s being vindicated.
Larry: What I’ve found, and this is why I’m so excited to have you, what I’ve found is that I know just enough about stem cells to really be dangerous when I try to educate people, and I don’t. Most people really have no clue. They’ve heard of stem cells. They think they know a little bit about it, but they’re really not sure. They’ll just be inquisitive. Where did all the stem cell research start?
NR: It actually started with one of our other research projects alongside the vitamin C research at the Riordan Clinic in Wichita, where we were looking at host non-toxic therapies for cancer. One of them…, there are cells in your body called dendritic cells. They are commanders of the immune system. They tell the immune system what to do, and in cancer patients they’re being blocked. One way to overcome that blockade to the immune system is by enhancing these dendritic cells and harvesting white blood cells to convert to dendritic cells. That was late 80s, and I left in the 90s to start my own clinic to actually make dendritic cells, to make cancer-therapeutic vaccines for cancer patients. I was in the Riordan Clinic for fourteen years, working on intravenous vitamin C and dendritic cell vaccines.
Larry: Interesting. What are the most common types of stem cells people have available to them today? I want to talk about that, and also, why umbilical? From what I’ve read, if you want stem cells that’s where you want to go, but I understand there are other options. You were able to treat this young man locally, but most people have to go out of the country. What were the early stages of stem cell options for people and where has it evolved to?
NR: First I want to exclude embryonic and fetal stem cells, which are subject to a lot of debate–religious and ethical–and we want to exclude that because that’s not even part of our conversation. It’s from an ethical and scientific standpoint that we’ve never utilized or even studied embryonic or fetal stem cells. We only use what’s classified as adult stem cells, and what’s included in that, is after a full-term healthy birth, we call those post-natal or adult stem cells. Once a healthy, normal life has begun on until your demise, those are all considered adult stem cells, and we can separate those into two major categories: one is blood-forming stem cells that are formed in your bone marrow, and those are called hematopoetic stem cells or blood-forming cells because that’s what they do. There’s a lot of confusion these days about those cells being used to treat cancer or MS, but those cells don’t really treat anything. When you hear about a cancer patient being treated with stem cells, they’re actually being treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation, in the hope that they get a high enough dose to kill the cancer, but it also kills your bone marrow’s ability to produce blood cells, so you die of an infection or you die of bleeding or something like that. The stem cells in that world are a rescue, not a treatment. Your stem cells are gone. They’ve all been obliterated, so you need new stem cells and start making all these blood products again. The world we’re in are repair stem cells -the repair stem cells are found throughout your body called MSCs. We use the term MSC for mesenchymal stem cells. We have them throughout our body and as we age, they become fewer in number, and as we age they lose their ability to fix things. They become less robust. So you have them in your fat, your bone marrow, every organ in your body. The healthiest, most robust stem cells from a non-dangerous, non-controversial source are from the umbilical cord. If we look at the potency of umbilical cord MSCs compared to mine, I’m 57 years old, my cells are going to divide once every 50-60 hours, whereas the umbilical cord cells divide every 24 hours, which doesn’t sound like a lot, until you look at the numbers. One cell after 30 days you’re going to have a billion cells from one if they divide every 24 hours. If you look at my cells in a lab, I’ll have a pitiful 2-300 cells after that period of time. It’s not just the cells, but it’s also what the cells secrete, molecules that stimulate regeneration. Our cells because we’re over the age of 50, they do not produce as many of those factors that stimulate regeneration, they’re also less robust their capacity to modulate the immune system and decrease inflammation. We all know that inflammation is the real key to aging.
Larry: You’ve touched on a lot of things. You are so brilliant and so smart. You’re a scientist. One of the great things about having you, is that this is the future of medicine, and being able to explain to people how they work. I want more stories from people who are actually, truly changing their lives as the result of stem cells, but I also want to talk to you about the confusions. I’ve had some friends who have gone to Houston and had some body fat taken out of their body, processed, and what are the benefits of that vs. umbilical? We’ll come back and talk about that. [Commercial break] We’re talking about the umbilical stem cells. Let’s say someone lives in Dallas. How would they know if they’re a candidate for stem cells?
NR: Typically we would want them to go to our website, and we’d want them to read all about what we do what we don’t do there. [www.cellmedicine.com]
Larry: So let’s say they go to the site, and one of my sponsors here is BioMedical and they’re about hormone optimization, and I love that your clinic actually does BioT. So if you’re thirty, and you test your testosterone levels and it’s high, let’s say above 800, they’d tell you you’re not a candidate for it. What tells you about who needs stem cells?
NR: We have a number of protocols. One of the things we do most of is we treat autoimmune diseases, and one of the indications we have is multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and others. The cells are very good when you infuse them in the vein. They change the auto-immune environment in the body. If someone wants to explore it as a treatment option, they’d go to the site and read about what we do and fill out an application. We have six MDs that work at the Stem Cell Institute in Panama. They review every case and will call them and typically ask them for medical records.
Larry: I’ve been there, to Panama, visited and got to work with your medical professionals, and I found it an amazing experience because for me, it was orthopedic because of the fact that I was a body-builder back in the 70s and 80s and we did things back then we probably shouldn’t have done. We sort of didn’t know any better. After being in several auto accidents, my neck, my back, my knee, and I have to tell you I had stem cells directly into the knee, and prior to meeting you I thought I was going to have to have surgery. In the month or so since we last saw each other, I don’t know what’s going on in my body but I’m feeling amazing. I want more of that! For me it was orthopedic. For others listening, you talked about inflammation, and stem cells are definitely able to help with that.
NR: Absolutely. They’re producers of the anti-inflammatory molecules in your body, the producers of your natural ibuprophen or naproxine. A lot of people, if they have a lot of arthritis, that’s another one of our protocols. Osteoarthritis, they don’t need to take those things anymore. We can inject right into the joint as well as do intravenous [injections]. The cells have this capacity to home to inflamed areas and respond to the situation to make the appropriate antibodies.
Larry: Let’s open up the phone lines. Let’s go to Said in Arlington:
Said: I am 60 years old and have been diagnosed with diabetes for six years. My A1C average is about 7-7.2. My question is, is there any research on diabetes and diabetic people? Will what you do help me?
NR: We don’t treat Type 2 diabetes in Panama, but there was a very good study done by the University of Miami, and they used bone marrow stem cells from the patient themselves, isolated the stem cells and pushed the stem cells into the pancreas, and if I remember correctly got a reduction in hemogloben A1C of 2.5 points was the mean for 20-some patients. I can post that study to my blog for you.
Said: Did that study proceed further?
NR: That was a one-time study and they followed the patients for a year. The procedure itself took one day, the bone marrow harvest, concentrating, and then the injection.
Said: What I have read, all these pharmaceutical companies are making money, tons of money, so naturally they don’t want anyone to promote to cure this disease. I’m sure there is a cure but no one wants to do the research.
Larry: Also, with Type 2, you do want to exercise, eat right, have your hormones in balance, take good care of yourself. That’s one of the best ways you can deal with your overall health and wellness, which you do control. Good luck to you. Neil, so, help me out here. Stem cells is a hot topic right now but you’ve been doing this for decades. You’ve devoted your life to it. I’ve seen and I’ve read on social media that locally, people are offering stem cells you can get locally. But really, without that special dispensation you have for one patient, what are people doing that are saying they can get it from a local clinic here.
NR: In our case at RMI in Southlake, we do stem cell therapy but we’re limited by FDA to using the patient’s own bone marrow. We also use amnion from afterbirth that has growth factors to make your bone marrow perform younger. We’ve got Dr. Wade McKenna, our board certified orthopedic surgeon. He does treatments using the patient’s own bone marrow in a relatively painless extraction procedure. He uses that in combination with amnion and with surgery. In his words, he likes to take big surgeries and make them small surgeries, and small surgeries and make them injections.
Larry: It’s a relatively new clinic but he’s busy, right?
NR: Yep, he’s done thousands of surgeries using bone marrow in Decatur and now he’s here, only for orthopedics, but we have another doctor there for overall wellness and optimization and hormone replacement therapies.
Larry: What led you to umbilical stem cells over other forms of stem cell treatment?
NR: It was mainly the science. One of the misconceptions is that the cells actually become new tissue. We have people come to us asking for new bladders and new body parts. These cells do not do that. These cells do home to places of inflammation in your body. That’s the sweet spot for these MSCs and they secrete substances that turn off these inflammations, and another sweet spot is autoimmune disease. If you look at what they secrete and their activity on the immune system and compare that to fat stem cells, you can get MSCs from your own fat, if you compare that, you have way more modulation potency from the umbilical cord than you do from your fat.
Larry: That’s quite significant.
NR: Basically you have to get this rock over a hill from an immune standpoint, and you can get halfway up the hill and it doesn’t do any good. If you want to get the rock over the hill, the best way to do it is with the best cells that produce the right molecules that stimulate your immune system to normalize.
Larry: The science agrees with you, there’s no question, but in the early stages, where did you go to get the cells in the first place?
NR: In Southlake, we have specialized equipment that allows us to take out the bone marrow, and we also have the amnion product that “hops up” the bone marrow. In Panama, we have a 16,000 square foot laboratory where we isolate the stem cells from umbilical cells, grow them out, freeze them down, and then we thaw them as required for use. All the hard work in Panama is in the laboratory because the actual therapy is nothing more, as you know.
Larry: Now, are there a lot of labs in the world that produce those types of cells?
NR: There’s about a handful. We’re creating a wedge with this Duchenne’s, and we’re creating a wedge for larger studies with more individuals.
Larry: Our callers touched upon it a little bit with pharma, I imagine there’s a lot of red tape and lobbying and I imagine pharma’s a lot of the pushback on why you’re not able to have your labs all over the United States.
NR: If you take rheumatoid arthritis as an example, and there was a study that came out where they treated over 172 people with umbilical MSCs, and all of them improved, after one infusion.
Larry: This is huge for those patients, because it’s very painful and there’s no cure before stem cells.
NR: If you look at the drugs that you hear about all the time watching television, you see these anti-rheumatic drugs over and over again, and they represent a 14 billion dollar industry in the US. So if you have a competitor that’s not yet FDA approved, there’s not going to be a great deal of pharma support for that.
Larry: Am I wrong in believe that the future is here, stem cells are going to be much bigger in peoples’ lives than they ever imagined?
NR: Yeah, I think it’s definitely right up there with vaccinations and antibiotics as far as the next leap forward in medicine, and as congressman Joe Barton pointed out in a meeting we had a couple of months ago, the truth always comes out. Sometimes it takes longer, and in this case the effectiveness of these cells, the safety of these cells, the naturalness of these cells, all those truths will become self evident at some point. How long it takes, I don’t know. There are other countries investing and building a regulatory process that will speed things up. For example, Japan has put in rules and regulations that will speed things up. Germany, South Korea, and Taiwan are right behind Japan. They’re going to allow for innovation like we’ve never seen before. If we don’t do something in this country, we’re going to be left in the dust. So, Japan’s rule basically states that once you prove the safety of your product, it can go to market for seven years, and in that seven years you can demonstrate what it’s effective for. I think we need something like that in this country if we’re going to stay competitive. There’s a bill being revised right now called the Renew Act. I don’t know that that’s going to make it, but we need something like it or for one of the states to create a statute much like medical marijuana, where the state of Colorado has said in spite of federal regulations we’re going to allow this and the attorney general’s going to back us up. I think Texas has a pretty good chance of that. I just got back from Kansas, and they’ve got a pretty good chance too.
Larry: Partly because of you! You’re at the forefront pushing and lobbying and really trying to create awareness.
NR: If you look at the economic benefit, I hate to use marijuana as a comparative, but if you look at the economics in Colorado, the state coffers are swollen with cash, and I think that would happen if a state were to say to the federal government, this is what we’re going to do. There’s enough evidence of safety, certainly with the patient’s own stem cells, with the post-natal stem cells, there’s enough safety data that one state will stand up, or the federal government’s going to have to make a break.
Larry: Any parting words?