EFA Medical Conference 2017: "Cells Are the New Cure" Presentation by Dr. Max Gomez

EFA Medical Conference 2017:

Over the course of his presentation, Dr. Max Gomez illustrates the various ways that cells can be used as effective therapies and cures.

Key Points


  •  The presentation of Dr. Max Gomez, an award-winning broadcast journalist, and the CBS News Medical Correspondent focused on cells as the future therapies and cures.


  • Many of the drugs on the market today are not very effective, or a patient is required to take numerous medications to treat their illnesses or symptoms. Dr. Gomez shares a statistics that states that individuals between the ages of 50 and 64 often had more than 19 prescriptions per person. Indubitably, there has got to be a better method of treatment, and Dr. Gomez argues that cells are the answer.

Key Points:

  • Dr. Gomez begins by talking about how fast things have changed in the field of medicine.
  • Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cells are used in CART Therapy
    • Dr. Stephen Grupp conducted the clinical trials for this novel form of immunotherapy.
    • Emily Whitehead was the first child to get the therapy for her Leukemia. Chemotherapy did not result in significant improvement. After CART therapy she has been cancer free for five years.
    • These CART-cells have the potential to cure different types of blood cancer like leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma.
    • The process primarily uses the body’s immune system to kill the troublesome cells in the body. The patient’s own T-cells are modified using a virus thus that the cells can recognize and attack cancer cells once the T-cells are reintroduced into the body. These cells also can prevent recurrence.
    • The video warns that CART therapy has serious side effects but can be extremely useful in dire circumstances.
    • The FDA has approved two different types of CART Therapies. The most recent approval is for a form of non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma found in adults.
    • CART Therapies are currently used against haematologic tumors; however, a new type of CART-cells, called armored CART-cells, may be used in the future to defend against solid tumors.
  • The limitation of drugs exists in the fact that they just target one biochemical pathway, whereas there are billions of biochemical reactions occurring in humans every second. Thus there is a need for a cell-based therapy that can focus more pathways more efficiently.
  • A Stanford neurosurgeon published a study where he injected generic stem cells in stroke-affected areas found in chronic stroke patients. All the patients recovered full functionality. This study highlights a cell’s ability to evolve, adapt, and impact a surrounding biological neighborhood.
  • Type 1 Diabetes
    • Dr. Steve Gidomen and colleagues attempt to treat Type 1 Diabetes using T-Regulatory cells (T-Regs). These cells are a type of T cells in the immune system that is less present in individuals with Type 1 Diabetes. The T-Regs are expanded in number, improved, and put back in the patient. Results show that this process reinstates immune system balance and prevents autoimmunity. A phase 2 trial of this study is currently underway.
    • Dr. Yong Zhao has a different method of treatment. He utilizes umbilical cord stem cells to reset T-reg cells. He extracts patient’s T cells, percolates them through Petri dishes that contain umbilical cord stem cells. The two types of cells interact, and then the T-cells are reintroduced into the patient’s body. These cells are more direct in their annihilation of troublesome cells as they can recognize cells that are like their own.
    • Type 1 Diabetes is an excellent disease to study because researchers can see if their experiment has any actual effect on autoimmunity.
  • Question and Answer Session
    • Dr. Gomez provides a clarification: when he refers to stem cells, he is referring to adult stem cells. These cells are found all over the body and can be activated.
    • Adult stem cells can now be de-differentiated to form any stem cell tissue. In essence, embryonic stem cells can even be produced from adult stem cells.
    • Stem cells can be isolated from the bone marrow, placental cells, and umbilical cord blood cells.

Lay Summary

Dr. Max Gomez is an award-winning broadcast journalist, CBS News Medical Correspondent, and a presenter at the EFA 2017 Medical Conference. Dr. Gomez’s presentation was titled “Cells Are the New Cure: The Cutting-Edge Medical Breakthroughs That Are Transforming Our Health.” The overarching theme is the versatility of cells and their potential to be the future therapies for a wide variety of illnesses.

Dr. Gomez starts his presentation by talking about aging and the ailments that are associated with this natural process. A 2013 statistic shared by Dr. Gomez stated that individuals between the ages of 50 and 64 on average had more than 19 prescriptions per person. This information indeed highlights the need for a better form of therapy. Dr. Gomez argues that this better treatment will come in the form of a living drug, namely living human cells.

Since there are a wide variety of ailments that could potentially be treated with cells, Dr. Gomez chose a few areas that would be of interest to the audience. The first types of cells are Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cells also known as CART cells, and these are being used to treat blood-based cancers like leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Dr. Gomez proceeded to share a video that further discussed this form of immunotherapy. The video explained that this process works by obtaining a patient's immune T cells, genetically modifying these cells using a virus, and then reintroducing these cells that they recognize and kill cancer cells. This form of therapy is also useful in preventing recurrence. Dr. Gomez states that CART cells are currently limited in the fact that they cannot affect solid tumors.


The next example showcasing the potential of cells is from a study published by a Stanford neurosurgeon, who injected stem cells into chronic stroke patients. These patients miraculously recovered all functionality. Dr. Gomez shared the example of the stroke patients to showcase the incredible ability of cells to act as drugs for a variety of diseases. Cells have already been used to treat some cases of Diabetes. Essentially T-Regulatory cells (T-Regs), a subpopulation of T cells in the immune system, are isolated, amplified and re-introduced into the patient's body to treat Diabetes. Another method is T-Reg re-education, a form of treatment developed by Dr. Yong Zhao.

Dr. Gomez then proceeds to highlight the myriad of diseases that could potentially be cured with stem cells. During the question and answer session, Dr. Gomez clarifies that the stem cells being used in these therapies are in fact adult stem cells that have been reprogrammed to achieve an embryonic stem cell-like state. The presentation ends with Dr. Gomez discussing the various sources of stem cells in the human body.

Dr. Gomez’s full presentation can be found at the following URL: https://www.endofound.org/video/cells-are-the-new-cure-the-cutting-edge-medical-breakthroughs-that-are-transforming-our-health-max-gomez-phd/1554.

Dr. Max Gomez CBS Cells therapies Blood Cancer Stroke Stem Cells Immune System Diabetes mc2017


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