CHENNAI: Doctors in the city claim to have achieved a major breakthrough in saving the legs of several diabetic patients from amputation using stem cell therapy. Vascular surgeons from Vijaya Hospital, Vadapalani, along with stem cell experts from Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM), claimed to have cured leg ulcers using stem cells from the patient’s own bone marrow.
The patients, who were initially advised to have their legs amputated to avoid spreading of infection and septicemia, were walking on their own feet, the doctors claimed.
Dr S R Subramanniyan, Chief Vascular Surgeon, Vijaya Hospital, told Express that the cases of Vimala (67), a long time diabetic, and Veeragovindaraj, in his late fifties, posed a challenge before them. While Veeragovindaraj already had one leg amputated and was advised to cut off the other one to prevent spread of infection, Vimala had one limb severely infected and ready to be cut off. “In Veeragovindaraj’s case, we could not even do a bypass as his blood vessels did not have adequate length. We were fighting to save his only limb of which, he had already lost the heel and the forefoot. For him, turning on bed itself was arduous,” said Dr Subramanniyan.
Vimala’s case was also critical as the infection had spread up to her knees, he added. In both cases, the stem cells were drawn from their bone marrow and isolated before being auto transplanted into the ischemic area. In a couple of weeks, there were signs of rejuvenation. “While injecting, we kept tabs on the quantity of stem cells injected for standardisation. We even checked for infection indicators,” Dr Subramanniyan added. Gradually, the condition of the blood vessels improved and blood supply to the lower limbs also became better.
“Veeragovindaraj is now in Bangalore while Vimala is able to walk about in her house. These cases give hope to millions of diabetics in India,” Dr Samuel J K Abraham, Director, NCRM, told Express over phone from Yamanashi, Japan. This study on patients with severe uncontrolled diabetes, published in Cytotherapy, the official journal for the International Society for Cellular Therapy (ISCT), is claimed to possibly be the first such case in India.