What inspired this documentary project?
Eric Merola is passionate about promising scientific innovations and discoveries that have the potential to help others. Sometimes a scientific discovery enters society that is both controversial and directly conflicts with the currently held scientific beliefs and the profit structure of that system within the medical industry (and in the case of fetal stem cells, they conflict with widely held religious beliefs as well). Eric finds this aspect to be an important one and feels an obligation through his investigative journalistic work, as well as his artistic expression as a filmmaker, to help the general public learn about these issues to help them make their own informed decisions.
In short, many people who had seen Eric’s previous work, who claimed to have been successfully treated by using fetal stem cells, had emailed Eric enough to peak his interest. In the summer of 2014, Eric set out to investigate this story.
I watched the documentary and I or a loved one would like to seek fetal stem cell therapy, where can I get it?
We are journalists and documentary filmmakers. It would be inappropriate for us to give anyone medical advice. While fetal stem cell research is legal in the United States, it is not approved by the American Food & Drug Administration for clinical use. All of the patients we are documenting for this project sought this therapy by leaving the United States to areas of the world where it is legally allowed to be administered.
Well, not exactly. While Stem Cell of America and Stemedica offer this therapy in Tijuana, it is illegal to administer fetal stem cells to humans in Tijuana, Mexico. Stem Cell of America claims to only provide fetal brain and liver cells; Stemedica only provides fetal brain and bone marrow cells; while EmCell in Kiev, Ukraine (the inventors and pioneers of this therapy) provide the patient with more than a dozen different fetal stem cell types.
The country of Ukraine is the only country in the world where the clinical application of fetal stem cells (administered to humans) is legal.
What is the difference between “Fetal Stem Cells” and the rest?
There is much confusion in the media as well as the scientific community as to what defines a “fetal stem cell”.
Fetal stem cells are not the same as Embryonic or Adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are harvested from a 5-day-old embryo after artificial fertilization. Adult stem cells are harvested from adults, and given back to the adult (usually taken from their fat or bone marrow). Fetal Stem Cells are harvested from a 7 to 12 week-old fetus. However, some of the scientific community still considers stem cells harvested from a fetus as “Adult”, creating more confusion.
Many people confuse “Embryonic” stem cells with “Fetal” stem cells, but they aren’t the same type of stem cell. To make matters more confusing, many asian and middle-eastern cultures do not have a vocabulary word for “fetal” which means they define both Embryonic and Fetal as “Embryonic”.
Embryonic stem cells can also be quite dangerous as they as known to cause tumors. However, fetal stem cells have had no recorded cases of anyone getting a tumor from fetal stem cell injections.
Watch the clip explaining this from The God Cells, here.
Rejection is also not an issue with fetal stem cells as HLA expression in them is either absent or minimal, while adult and cord blood stem cells do express histocompatibility antigens, which requires donor-recipient HLA matching or immunosuppression. The potential of autologous stem cells and fetal stem cells are very different, the possibility of clinical changes in autologous (adult) stem cells is low, thus not as effective in degenerative conditions.