The Lip TV News: Neil Riordan, PhD on Exploring New Stem Cell Treatments for MS, Arthritis, Autism and More

Stem cell treatment and research towards curing illness–from multiple sclerosis to spinal injury–is detailed by Dr. Neil Riordan. The American medical industry, obstructions to research in the states, misconceptions about stem cells, and the details about the treatment process are explained–and we look at video of patient recovery and speculate at what the future could spell for stem cell treatment and research in this Lip News interview, hosted by Elliot Hill.

Dr. Neil Riordan is the founder and Chairman of Medistem Panama, a leading stem cell laboratory and research facility – located in Panama City. His institute is at the forefront of research of the effects of adult stem cells on the course of several chronic diseases. Dr. Riordan has more than 60 scientific articles in international peer-reviewed journals. In the stem cell arena, he and his colleagues have published more than 20 articles on Multiple Sclerosis, Spinal Cord Injury, Heart Failure, Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Cutting edge: Surgeon uses stem cell surgery on stem cell researcher Neil Riordan PhD

Wise County Messenger
By Bob Buckel | Published Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A middle-aged man named Neil got his knee “scoped” in a Decatur operating room recently.

That’s not unusual. Wise Regional Health System’s OR is a busy place, and arthroscopic knee surgery is a common procedure.

But this particular knee had an interesting twist.

Wade McKenna MD and Neil Riordan PhD in OR

IN THE OR – Dr. Wade McKenna performs stem cell surgery on stem cell researcher Neil Riordan PhD.

The physician doing the surgery, Dr. Wade McKenna, met his patient when they shared a podium at a medical conference in February. The patient, Neil Riordan, has a Ph.D. in molecular biology and is one of the leading stem cell researchers in the world.

Riordan’s surgery, a fairly routine cleanout, ended with the insertion of a concentrate of his own stem cells back into the knee, to promote healing, foster cartilage regeneration, and reduce inflammation and the possibility of infection.

It’s a procedure Dr. McKenna has done more than 1,500 times, right here in Decatur, for a variety of fractures, cartilage and tendon injuries. Last year he operated on patients from four countries.

“It’s been mostly in the last three years, and really, the bulk of those in the last year,” he said. “It’s not like I have a newspaper ad that says ‘Stem Cell Surgeon.’ It’s just, you do a patient whose doctor calls you, and that doctor has a family member that he calls you about. Almost all these patients know someone I’ve already taken care of.”

He cited a doctor in Oklahoma who flew his wife down for knee surgery, and a radiologist who reviewed before and after MRIs of one of his procedures and saw actual cartilage growth.

“He calls me on the phone and says, “How did you do that? I’ve never seen condromilatia going the other direction. I’ve only seen it get worse.’” McKenna said. “He ends up sending his father-in-law, who’s from Canada, down to have the surgery. And that guy from Canada goes back and tells… so that’s how it’s happened.”

The surgeries are mostly routine – but the addition of bone marrow-derived stem cells afterward is a game-changer.

“Stem cells change the environment for healing in the joint,” Dr. McKenna said. “It’s like finding the light switch in a dark room. It looks like stem cells are the sentinel cells, the messenger cell – the light switch.

“It makes a substantial difference,” he added.

The journey that brought Neil Riordan to an operating table in Decatur started in Florida.

In February, at the International Stem Cell Society Conference in Fort Lauderdale, he spoke about research he’s doing in Panama that involves taking stem cells from a patient’s own fat, drying them, multiplying them and re-injecting them into the patient to promote healing.

McKenna spoke later about the technique he’s using. His method caught the researcher’s interest in part because it’s one of the few stem cell applications that’s legal in the U.S.

After he presented his results – broken clavicles to ankles to shoulders to arthritic knees – Riordan was interested enough to invite McKenna to dinner.

“He said he wanted to talk to me about some of the clinical experience I’ve had,” McKenna said. “He had not, to that point, been exposed to anyone who had that much experience with bone marrow-derived stem cells.”

Since then, they’ve gotten together several times – Riordan lives in Dallas and has a lab in Farmer’s Branch – and have “gone through a lot of research together,” McKenna said.

And somewhere in there, Riordan decided he might be a candidate for McKenna’s procedure.


“Neil saw all these films I’d taken and thought, ‘I’m ignoring a bunch of loose stuff floating around in my knee.’” McKenna said.

“It was only a couple of weeks ago – we’d been looking at a lot of cell cultures, and spending a lot of time in the lab in Dallas, and he finally just said, ‘Examine me. Put your hand here.’”

It was quickly obvious to the experienced surgeon that his research partner needed some work.

“I thought, ‘What are you doing?’” McKenna said. “He’s got locking, catching, giving way. I tell people all the time, you can ignore pain and swelling, but you can’t ignore mechanical symptoms. If something’s getting caught in your knee, it makes pretty intuitive sense to take that out, and your knee will feel better.”

To that point, Riordan’s focus had been simply on the application of stem cells – not combining it with surgery to clean out the joint and improve its mechanical function. Visiting with the surgeon, it made sense to combine the procedures.

Riordan himself explained it in an interview prior to his surgery.

“I still have stem cells in my bone marrow,” he said. “He’s going to pull some of those out and put them in the knee, the place where they’re needed.”

Riordan said the idea is to help the knee heal like it would have when he was much younger.

“When you’re young, you have a whole bunch of stem cells,” he said. “All we’re doing is just putting more of them in the right place at the right time to help people get over stuff. That’s what it boils down to.”

Riordan’s torn ACL, meniscus damage, adhesions and other knee problems were the result of an injury in 2002 where his knee swelled up, then “kind of” got better, McKenna said.

In surgery, to the constant beeping of the heart monitor and the ree-ree-ree of the pedal-operated instrument shaving off debris and vacuuming it out, the surgeon narrated while he operated.

“Just getting all the junk out of your knee, while it doesn’t give you a new knee, it certainly turns back the hands of time a little bit,” McKenna said. “He was just walking around, doing everything on this without seeking treatment.”

Fluid circulated through the knee and everyone watched the instruments on multiple big-screen television monitors in the OR.

“It didn’t make a lot of sense to start squirting stem cells into his knee until you clean it out a little bit,” McKenna said. “Even with the greatest stem cells in the world, if you just squirt it into that crummy knee with all that loose junk – none of that was going away.

“At least now, you see the difference in the joint. This has a chance of healing.”

After trimming for over an hour, removing frayed cartilage, bone spurs and adhesions, McKenna was ready to inject the bone-marrow aspirate that had been spinning just a few feet away.


Prior to going into the knee, McKenna harvested bone marrow from Riordan’s left hip-bone and delivered it to a technician who put it into a specially-designed centrifuge.

Using the patient’s own stem cells makes the surgery legal in the U.S. Concentrating the bone marrow with a centrifuge makes it much more effective, based on the results McKenna has observed.

“A lot of doctors, when I say we’re doing bone marrow draws, they say there’s no stem cells in an adult,” he said. “That’s just not true. We’ve done the cell counts. I get over a million cells out of this harvest.”

He said the injection of stem cells accomplishes the same thing as microfracture – cracking the joint surface to bring bone marrow to the surface. It just does it better.

“In my mind, it’s not a big leap of faith to think that if a couple of drops of bone marrow from a worn-out knee help it heal, what would the equivalent of 110 ccs of spun-down, concentrated bone marrow with only the best parts do?

“That’s how we invented this surgery. No one had ever done microfracture surgery with bone marrow spread, and we did that in Decatur about five years ago.”

McKenna said the bone marrow from the ileac crest – the hip-bone – has more stem cells and growth factors than what’s in the knee – or on the market.

“There’s a patch that has about 60,000 donor stem cells and you can use that to help tendons heal,” he said. “But would you rather have 60,000 donor stem cells from someone else, that only have a viability of about 75 to 80 percent, or would you rather have 1 to 2 or 3 million of your own stem cells, with a viability of over 90 percent, that were taken at the time?

“They haven’t been freeze-dried, they haven’t been processed, they’re not from someone else – they’re yours. It’s a no brainer.”

“And the stem cells are delivered in a ‘slurry’ of concentrated growth factor,” he said.

“Now we’re on the right track, because the trophic factors are how you heal anyway. It’s how tendon heals, muscle heals, it’s how the body grows cartilage, grows tissue. It’s what stimulates growth and healing.

“We’re not doing anything abnormal,” he added. “This is the body’s normal physiology and reaction to disease. All we’re doing is adding a little gas to the engine.”


Riordan, who has written more than 60 articles and chapters in two textbooks, speaks all over the world about stem cell therapy.

His research in Panama focuses on amniotic stem cells, taken from the “afterbirth” – the umbilical cord and amniotic sac – which would normally be disposed of after a baby is born.

“The amniotic membrane is actually what covers the baby in the womb, and that is what we use,” Riordan said. “There are 120-200 million stem cells inside of an amniotic membrane. They help in healing, decrease inflammation, decreasing adhesion formations, which is a real problem in surgery, particularly spine surgery. They promote and stimulate regeneration.”

Riordan’s clinic, Medistem Panama, is in an area just outside of Panama City called the City of Knowledge. Several major universities and research labs have located facilities there because of tax incentives and relaxed regulation.

Both stressed that the research in Panama uses amniotic tissue – not fetal tissue. Most stem-cell researchers reject the use of fetal tissue both for ethical reasons and because they’re simply not needed.

“The big political uproar about stem cell research is misguided,” he said. “Nobody is using fetal tissue. The only tissue that’s used is either the patient’s own tissue, or, better, amniotic tissue. That amniotic membrane is a very rich source of mesenchymal stem cells. That’s where a lot of Neil’s research is now.”

Riordan believes the FDA’s regulation of stem cells is misguided.

Speaking at a conference last July in Arizona, he said the FDA needs to view stem cells as what they are – human tissue – not a drug. He pointed out that hearts, lungs, kidneys, corneas, skin and other organs are transplanted in the U.S. every day, all without FDA approval.

“The drugs that suppress your immune system so you can receive that heart and survive – those are FDA approved, but the transplant isn’t,” he said. “It’s a procedure. It’s exempt.”

“I think ultimately these (stem cells) should be exempt as well, and should fall under the practice of medicine. That’s my opinion.”

For now, McKenna’s groundbreaking use of stem cells continues to pile up impressive results, providing clinical backup for the research done by people like Riordan.

And every day, it becomes more obvious that the use of stem cells holds the potential for healing across the entire spectrum of human suffering.

“Now, it’s not only about keeping your cartilage from wearing out, it’s about, ‘Can we grow cartilage and help you heal the joint?’” McKenna said. “The answer to that right now is yes-ish. In the not-too-distant future, the answer is yes.”

“It’s an exciting field,” Riordan said.

Stem Cell Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis – Arminda Bourin

Arminda Bourin has suffered from rheumatoid arthritis since 2003. She underwent adult stem cell therapy at the Stem Cell Institute in February 2012 because her swollen, painful ankles made it very difficult for her to walk. This interview takes place approximately one year after treatment.

Before coming to Panama, Ms. Bourin tried everything from anti-inflammatory and auto-immune medication to homeopathy and finally surgery on her left ankle, “Which I regret because if I had waited [until after the stem cell therapy], it would not have been necessary. The other foot with the same symptoms is now better without any surgery. I think it was the stem cells.”

Ms. Bourin learned about the Stem Cell Institute from her husband’s cousin, Judi Lecoq. Judy received treatment for multiple sclerosis and, “…told us how wonderful the treatment was and that she was so much better.”

Regarding the doctors, staff and clinic, “They are wonderful. Everybody has been so kind.”

Upon being asked, “Has this treatment changed your life?” Ms. Bourin responded, “Well, yes. I was not walking too much. I needed a wheelchair. It was painful anyway. So to be able to go shopping, that’s a miracle!”

Stem cell treatments for rheumatoid arthritis: Tracey Renneberg

Tracey Renneberg discusses her improvements following stem cell therapy for rheumatoid arthritis. Tracey is now in Panama multiple sclerosis treatment. “My rheumatoid arthritis is completely gone. This leg used to drag and now I can pick it up and walk. If patients have rheumatoid arthritis or MS, this is where they should be.”

Jorge Paz MD: Adult Stem Cell Therapy for Arthritis, Sports Injury, and Autoimmune Disease || 3 of 3

Stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis using adipose (fat) stem cell. Case study of 76 year-old man with osteoarthritis in his knees. Stromal vasular fraction treatment statistics including side effects collected over 800 infusions. Stem cell treatments for sports injuries and why pro sports stars are seeking treatment. Case study of a professional dancer with knee and neck problems who returned to competition after stem cell treatment in Panama.

Stem cell therapy for rheumatoid arthritis: Bryan Gamez

Bryan-Gamez Stem Cells Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient

Bryan Gamez – Stem Cell Recipient and Rheumatoid Arthritis Subject

I have been asked to speak about the treatment and my experience with people in my community.

I was diagnosed with RA at the age of 23 and received the the therapy at the age of 25.

I was working out at the gym 3 times per week until my ankle started hurting. Eventually, I had to stop all activity involving my ankle.

In the morning, I suffered from stiffness and limited flexibility in my joints: wrist, fingers, ankles, knees and hip. My fingers were swollen. I also had trouble kneeling down and gained a lot of weight as a result of my reduced physical activity.

“I could see myself in a wheelchair if I had not received this treatment. I think it saved my life.”

As things progressed, I could not even go for a leisurely walk and if I did manage to go, I couldn’t get out of bed the next morning. My daily work routine became more difficult as time went on. It was hard just to kneel down to pick up my pen. I had stopped doing pushups due to wrist pain.

My doctor prescribed Celebrex for pain and inflammation. I started taking Humira until I went for a jog one day. The next day, I had a major flare up throughout my body. It never worked again after that so I stopped taking it. The Celebrex helped me get through the day at work but I was still in pain.

Then by chance, my mom read about a stem cell therapy seminar being hosted by Dusty Durrill at Del Mar College and my dad went to it. I was skeptical but decided to go since someone like Dusty, whom we knew from our community went himself and spoke so highly of it.

The doctors at the Stem Cell Institute were very professional and nice. They immediately established a close relationship with me and made me feel like a person, not just a number. It was very personal . They were open and answered all of my questions. They treated me like “Bryan”.

Even the office staff was very helpful with non-medical issues. I do customer service all day and while in Panama, I received much more than just “customer service”.

I also got to go on a tour of the laboratory. I found the Q&A particularly helpful. It was nice to have an opportunity to have all issues regarding stem cells addressed.

Since receiving stem cell therapy, my pain level has gone way down. I noticed changes the first day. My hands became less stiff and the pain I usually felt when clenching my hands was reduced.

Now, I still have a little morning stiffness but it goes away quickly. Before treatment, it would linger for an hour or two. My joints are still a little inflamed but I have so much less pain. I just bought a new gym membership. I play racquetball and work out on the elliptical machine. I can bend down and pick up a pencil again and I am still improving! I still take Celebrex for inflammation due to the amount of exercise I am doing but its effect on me is 10-fold since I got the stem cells.

I feel very blessed to have found this treatment because it has done wonders for me and I will continue to recommend the therapy to anybody that may benefit from it.

I could see myself in a wheelchair if I had not received this treatment. I think it saved my life.

Bryan Gamez

2012-12-05T22:22:53+00:00December 5th, 2012|Patient Stories, Rheumatoid Arthritis|

Stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis: Dusty Durrill

Prominent Texan, Dusty Durrill, discusses his improvements after undergoing stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis at the Stem Cell Institute in Panama City, Panama.

Progress report….

Everything doing well.
Had clicking in right knee joint that has disappeared.
Had soreness in right knee on any lateral movement- soreness gone.
Hair is continuing to turn grey from original white…noticed by many folks.
Skin is continuing to clear up (bleaching out) & smoothing up.
Folds of skin on lower neck have disappeared.
ED has disappeared – no need for blue pills any more.
My office staff claims I am more alert & involved than before treatment.
Had a bladder problem of involuntary leakage when going to bathroom.
Involuntary leakage problem is now under control.
All in all I feel your procedure has been an outstanding success.

Dusty D.

CALLER TIMES (Corpus Christi, TX) January, 2 2011

News maker of the Decade: Dusty Durrill
Philanthropist works to beautify Corpus Christi
Durrill credits most of his good health and youthful energy to a stem cell transplant he received in Panama City, Panama. Durrill said the procedure, which is not approved in the United States, eradicated his crippling arthritis and reversed the effects of aging, giving him a slight face-lift and transforming his hair from white to gray.

Durrill said he intends to return to Panama soon for a booster. He hopes to stay active for another two decades, if nothing more than to spend time with his girlfriend, 25 years his junior.

“I got a lot of things I need to do here,” he said. “I got to keep my health. I got to keep things happening.”

DEL MAR COLLEGE CAMPUS NEWS (Corpus Christi, TX) – January 15, 2010

Community Leader Sponsoring Talk on Stem Cell Research and Treatment
Dusty Durrill bringing guest speaker Dr. Jorge Paz Rodriguez to Corpus Christi for free presentation scheduled Friday, June 18, at DMC Center for Economic Development

Community leader and advocate William R. “Dusty” Durrill swears by the treatment––the use of his own stem cells to cure his arthritis. According to Durrill, all his pain has been eradicated through such treatment at the Stem Cell Institute located in Panama City, Panama, by Jorge Paz Rodriguez, M.D.

On Friday, June 18, Durrill is sponsoring a free presentation by Dr. Rodriguez to discuss advances in stem cell research and the treatment methods used to tackle diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease, among others. The presentation is from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in Room 106 of Del Mar College’s Center for Economic Development, located at 3209 S. Staples. For more information about the event, call 884-8857.

Board certified in internal medicine, Dr. Rodriguez has an international practice at the Wellmed Clinic in Panama City and in San Antonio. He is also the medical director of the Stem Cell Institute of Panama.

A former member of both the American Medical Association and the Texas Medical Association, Dr. Rodriguez completed his residency with the New York Medical College after completing studies at the University of Panama and an internship at the Social Security Hospital in Panama. Prior to 2005, he held licensures in New York and Texas and is currently certified to practice medicine in Panama.

Stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis: Juan Gramage

Reactive arthritis

“I could tell you a long story because the experience of having a chronic illness is a tragic and distasteful novel. Almost 4 years ago I began to feel fatigue and pain in my peripheral joints, especially the big ones. The pain was migrating and intensifying every day. I tried many ways to cure myself: synthetic drugs, natural drugs, special diets…

Three or four months ago I received the stem cell treatment and the results have been positive. My pain hasn´t disappeared completely buy I feel that the improvements I felt initially is continuing to strengthen, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and today I can go out. Also I have the confidence that this is the ultimate solution to the pain in my joints.

“I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and today I can go out…”

The first weeks after the injections I felt that the strong pains were decreasing day by day and a month later I felt no more discomfort, the episodes have almost disappeared and I am working with the body feeling new, or at least 75%. I feel better, much better and I believe that if there exists a treatment that is cohesive and successful and still doesn´t harm your health, this is it.

I am deeply touched that new technologies can cure and alleviate the suffering of so many people and at the same time the researches that control the funds of investigation and treatments of these technologies, accountants, administrators and funding-related policy research and treatments, to make this treatment accessible the majority. I have no doubt that health should be a universal right.

If you don´t believe me, talk to be after you suffered through a similar illness. Thanks to all the restless minds that have contributed to these advances.”

2012-12-05T16:36:07+00:00December 5th, 2012|Osteoarthritis, Patient Stories|

Jorge Paz MD: Adult stem cell therapy for arthritis, sports injury, and autoimmune diseases (part 2 of 3)

Stem cell Treatment protocol for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Why stem cells must be administered systemically for autoimmune diseases. Dr. Paz elaborates on the disadvantages of same-day fat-derived stem cell treatments. He presents the scientific rationale for treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with fat-derived stem cells along with a published case report including patient video. Presentation of similarities between MS and RA and how MS is treated with a combination of human umbilical cord-derived stem cells and adipose stem cells. Dr. Paz discusses why MS treatment includes umbilical cord-derived stem cells.