Site Visit Summary
- Location: San Juan, Costa Rica
- Date: Spring 2009
- Web site: Medi Stem, Inc.
- Site visitors: Ferdinando Pisani and Berkley Bedell
In an attempt to disseminate information on the latest advancements in stem cell therapy (SCT), the Foundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine (FAIM) is making house calls to learn directly from some of the pioneers of this exciting and promising medical field. One of these is Dr. Neil Riordan who, due to the legal restrictions to practice this therapy in the United States, has moved to Costa Rica to further his research. Dr. Neil Riordan is the son of the late orthomolecular therapy pioneer, brilliant researcher and author, Dr. Hugh Riordan.
FAIM's founder, former Congressman Berkley Bedell, and staff traveled to Costa Rica to visit the facilities Dr. Riordan has set up where he is able to select and expand stem cells for implantation. Patients travel from the United States to Costa Rica hoping to benefit from the promises of this therapy. Dr. Riordan is the first to admit that much advancement is still necessary to make SCT fully effective. However, he likes to illustrate successful cases that include a patient with a severed spine who now has regained lower body sensitivity and the capacity to walk. Dr. Riordan is an encyclopedia of eclectic knowledge which he references with the many scientific papers he reads and collects. His capacity for thinking laterally has allowed him many important scientific breakthroughs that have produced precious patents. He is the founder of various start-up companies and has now expanded his facilities to neighboring Panama where the government facilitates the establishment of high tech companies.
Dr. Riordan is a proponent of autologous adult stem cells (A-ASC) which are derived from the patient's own adipose tissue, blood and bone marrow. He scientifically supports the claim that autologous adult stem cells have no side-effects and should be allowed as a general medical ambulatory procedure in the United States. He envisions that physicians can make stem cell extractions from patients and send them via courier to a central laboratory. The stem cells can then be selected and expanded before being returned to the physician who can inject them back into the patient. Dr. Riordan is convinced that a certain critical number of expanded cells need to be implanted for this therapy to work properly.
Dr. Riordan is also a pioneer and proponent of allogeneic stem cells which surprisingly defy common dogma on immuno-compatibility. He has found that allogeneic stem cells seem to make themselves at home in the host organism. Witness to this has long been evident by the fact that pregnant mothers share the circulation with their baby and receive the benefit of allogeneic stem cells. This can easily be tested with mothers who had sons by staining their cells with a dye sensitive to the Y-chromosome. In such an experiment, Y-chromosomes appear all over, proving that mothers receive and harbor cells from their children without immuno-incompatibility. Which, by the way, could be the reason for women's longer life-expectancy.
Dr. Riordan is not a proponent of embryonic stem cells (ESC), that aside from ethical reasons, represent potential teratogenicity. ESCs are being proposed as potential therapeutic agents by pharmaceutical companies because one source can have almost unlimited expansion potential. Furthermore, the process to mature an ESC into an adult stem cell is a complicated and complex one that would insure many restricting patents that guarantee proprietorship of the final product. A standardized cell can then be transformed into a drug for specific therapeutic applications. Thus, the risk is that a simple and relatively inexpensive ambulatory medical procedure using A-ASCs will possibly be usurped by a product that will be a patented drug with a high premium.
For more information, visit Dr. Riodan's Medi Stem, Inc. web site.