MS Patient Travels Abroad to Receive Stem Cell Treatment

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stem cell therapy being administered to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) outside the United States was recently touted by an MS patient who traveled to Mexico to receive the therapy, revealing significant improvements in her quality of life. Debbie Bertrand, an MS patient who was diagnosed in 2001, is sharing her positive experiences with receiving the stem cell therapy, despite the fact that Celltex Therapeutics, the Sugar Land, Texas-based biotechnology company responsible for the therapy, was scrutinized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2012 as part of the ongoing controversy about the treatment approach.

There is currently no cure for the chronic disease that affects over 2.3 million people worldwide, but stem cell treatment may help in the management of the disease’s progressively debilitating symptoms. MS leads to problems with vision, movement, balance, and cognition, dramatically affecting quality of life. However, the stem cell culturing and banking technology from Celltex is a novel therapeutic method that, according to the company, is helping to improve the quality of life of patients with degenerative and autoimmune conditions.

“I am very happy with the results I have seen,” said Debbie Bertrand in a Celltex press release. “Not only do I have my doctor’s blessing, I have never experienced any negative side effects. I still take one oral drug for MS, but I haven’t had daily injections for MS in four years. I hope to see this process help others in my situation, and I am thankful to Celltex for bringing this technology to the United States.”

Bertrand, who was born in Texas and diagnosed with MS 14 years ago, was recently treated with Celltex’s stem cell therapy at Hospital Galenia in Cancun, Mexico. Prior to treatment, she started experiencing numbness in the hands and feet and tried to enter four different clinical trials, but did not meet the criteria for any of them. As a result, she followed the recommendation of a fellow churchgoer and made contact with Dr. Stanley Jones, a Houston-area orthopedic surgeon who treated Texas Governor Rick Perry with stem cell therapy in the past, to understand more about the novel therapy and how to receive it abroad.

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The therapy isolates, cultures and stores hundreds of millions of a patient’s own adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in order to use them as a regenerative therapy. The process involves the extraction of MSCs through a portion of abdominal fat, after which the cells are separated from the fat and stored to be used in the future.

Debbie received her first infusion in October 2011 and started feeling the improvements in her strength and energy shortly after. Nine months after beginning the treatment, she was able to leave her wheelchair and began using a walker. Bertrand plans to receive a third round of stem cell therapy next month in Cancun.

Celltex started providing the stem cell treatment in the U.S., but in 2012 a warning from the FDA prompted them to move their treatment activities and begin treating patients in Mexico. The FDA advised the company about their procedures, which included more than minimal manipulation of the stem cells and was already considered a drug.

Therefore, according to the FDA’s guidelines, Celltex would need their approval to administer the treatment in the United States, unlike other stem cell therapies that do not require FDA approval if there is no manipulation of cells. In addition, the FDA warned the company about failing to correct problems in their cell processing, which had been identified five months earlier.

In spite of the controversy, stem cell treatments for MS continue to make headlines and stoke the interest of multiple sclerosis patients desperate for a viable alternative to therapies that often have little effect on the progressive form of the disease. Last February, a phase 2 clinical study from an international group of research centers compared head-to-head autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT) and mitoxantrone in the treatment of patients with secondary progressive or relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. The encouraging findings showed that MRI-detected brain lesions were reduced by 79% in patients undergoing AHSCT compared to patients treated with mitoxantrone.

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  1. Darlene says:

    I was diagnosed with MS in 1998. Took Copaxone for 5 years then 3 years of Tysabri. 3 treatments of Novontrone then 9 months of plasma exchange. LDN oral pill for 1 year. Now my doctor says there is nothing more he can do for me. Open to any suggestions.

  2. I first displayed M.S. symptoms in in 1985 but remained undiagnosed until an MRI scan in 1992. I was R-R until about 1998 when I stopped experiencing complete remission between attacks. I traveled to Germany in 2005 to have a stem cell treatment utilizing my bone marrow and have not been on any medication since, the repeated MRI scans have found no change in my brain or spine since the treatment, the degeneration has effectively ceased and my condition is stable. It wasn’t cheap but I think it was worth it.

    I am amazed that the medical fraternity insists this treatment is ‘experimental’, they refuse to recognize it has been occurring for over a decade without any problems. My rationale was, and still is, that using my own stem cells presents no risk provided the treatment occurs under hygienic conditions.

    It is possible to argue that simply flooding my spinal fluid with millions of my stem cells represented a placebo because the cells were only cultivated in the lab to breed massive numbers of identical cells with no treatment applied to them. But I prefer to view it as placing me into a stable condition (glass half full), so while I’ve experienced no change in either direction that’s better than nothing 🙂

    • Jaimie SIbert says:

      Cathy Hi there interested in your treatment in Germany, where was it done and what cost, I am looking at Mexico but would be happier with Germany, wait to hear thanks Jaimie

      • Russ says:

        We brought my wife to Germany for stemcell treatment 5 years ago – great success but she has been diagnosed as secondary progressive and it shows. we can return to Germany.

        • Andrea says:

          Hi Russ – can you please email some info to me where abouts the stemcell treatment was done – urgently seeking help for my sister in law – thanks

        • jody russo says:

          Russ can you give me more information about where you did this treatment in Germany? I live near Düsseldorf and due to my visa status here, my sister would qualify to be 100% covered by my insurance as I could get her a visa as a medical dependent. I have received info from Maximov but the waiting list is 2 years long and just started looking into Mexico….

        • cyril cook says:

          were in Germany did you get the treatment could you please sent me information on the stem cell treatment. I was diagnosed with remitting remission m.s

        • Ruth Sabourin says:

          Please send information on clinic in Germany. We are running out of options with medications. They all have such terrible side effects for my husband. Thank you.

        • michael schwinn says:

          Russ and Cathy could you send me information on cost and where treatment was done. I am running out of options after numerous medications have not worked. I have a 4yr old son and would love to be there for him.

    • Ana Gus says:

      Hello Cathy, I am interested in the details for the Germany clinics. My partner has MS and we would like to try the treatment. Also if you would be so kind to tell me the cost of the treatment, it would be much appreciated.
      Best regards, Ana

    • Haitham says:

      please let us know where did you do your treatment in Germany. I need it for my mom. Can you please send me an email with the info.

      Many thanks,


    • Dane Coplinsky says:

      Hi Cathy,
      Just saw your posting about stem cell in Germany a little over a year ago and wondering how it is going now?
      I was diagnosed 2 1/2 years ago with MS and am on Copaxone. My doctor does not seem to like the idea when I mention stem cell. But on the other hand he is also a panid speaker for Copaxone.
      Where was the clinic in Germany and would still recommend it?
      Thank you

    • Ruth Sabourin says:

      Please send information about the stem cell center in Germany. My husband has MS and has many side effects from medications and we are running out of options. PLEASE

  3. Kimberly Panos says:

    I think the medical establishment well knows by now that STEM cell treatments aren’t experimental. They steered and driven by drug company dollars, from whom would never allow anything that resembled a one-time treatment or cure. To do so would cause those drug companies to lose billions of dollars per year. Drug companies aren’t in the business to heal, but to just keep us in a static, dependent state that requires us to purchase their drugs for the rest of our lives. What would they do if there were no chronic diseases?

  4. Andrea says:

    My sister in law got Ms, she has got a little one year old boy and she struggles walking – please help – please can anybody let me know where to phone or who to get in contact with for stemcell treatment in Germany – thanks

  5. paty dueñas lopez says:

    Hi, I was diagnosed with RRMS in January 2014. It has changed my life so much. I was taking Gilenya and it was making me worse. I would beg my Dr. to take me off the medication, but she didn’t want to. She finally took me off because she read a medical journal that mentioned that people in London were developing a certain brain virus (can’t recall the name).
    2 months ago, I finally decided to get the Stem Cell in Mexico. I started to see an improvement. Now i use a cane and I’m not in a wheelchair, I’m not falling asleep all the time and I’m not tired. I feel I’m improving because I can move my leg more.
    I’m so glad I did this!

    • Chris Staunton says:

      Hi I got Transverse Myelitis in 2010 and was wondering if stem cell treatment would work for me It would be great if you could give me some more information Thanks Chris

    • Danny Barrett says:

      I was diagnosed at the age of 62… 8 years later I am in a wheelchair! I have no vision problems and no problems with my upper extremities ! Right leg is fine and my only problem is my left leg. I would like information on the use of my stem cells in Mexico.

      • Bob Benvie says:

        I am 62 and just diagnosed.
        The only problems I have are with my right leg and balance but they are getting bad fast. I am very interested in this therapy. Where would be the best place to start looking.

    • Barry howle says:

      Hi there
      My mum is in a progress state and is on bed rest can’t stand and we are desperate we feel we are going to lose her. Not sure how we are going to get her there but could you please send me details of who where how many times you have to go back and cost. I wish you well and hope you do not have to suffer what my mother Anne and our family have had to go through. Is it the same as Germany? I hear they use your own in Germany where in Mexico they use screened other healthy stem cells?
      Bless you with all my heart.

    • michael schwinn says:

      Paty, I have RRMS and have taken numerous medications that have either stopped being effective or have severe side effects. Please send me information on cost and where treatment was performed. Thank you.

  6. Ann Haine says:

    Dear Cathy
    Please could you inform me about the name and cost of that centre in Germany for steam cell treatment? I would like to have treatment for the pain I suffer owing to the demyelination of the nerves in my feet.
    Thank you

  7. I’ve read about stem cell treatment. I took a pill years ago that helped it. Yes you must use the medication as suggested. When you run out and you have to wait for medication to ship, your body feels it. I felt like I was paralyzed. It scared me.However please just tell me the cost rather Cancun or Germany? I’m saving to go. This is my investment!!! Please

  8. Sharon Fetters says:

    Stem cell treatment is the best hope for a positive change on SPMS. I was diagnosed in April 1995. Onset problems began A Aug. 1992. I want info on MS Clinic in Germany as my child teaches there. Need location & cost. On a limited income, but will fundraise. I”ve been on Betaseron 3 yrs, Avonex 8.5 yrs, Copaxone 5 yrs, Rebif 6mos w/bad flu symptoms, 6 Novantrone IV’s. On Tecfodera 3 yrs & got more disabilty. I take Navantrone w/increase in energy. In wheelchair since husband died suddenly June’14. Despirate for stemcell treatment. No option left. Hate greedy drug companies & FDA. Please forward Germany info… Thanks

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