Thursday, October 05, 2006

MS man's stem cell treatment hope

Mr Cooper said he is willing to risk the treatment

A multiple sclerosis sufferer has been warned he is risking his health after deciding to fly to Holland to undergo controversial stem cell therapy. Kevin Cooper, 47, from Crook, County Durham, was diagnosed 13 years ago and says he has nothing to lose.

But some health professionals claim there is no proof stem cell treatment can help, and that Mr Cooper is putting himself at risk.

His friends have helped raise thousands of pounds for the treatment.

Mr Cooper flies to the clinic in Rotterdam on Tuesday for the treatment, which involves the cells being injected into his body.

Stem cells have the potential to turn into many different types of cell that make up tissues and organs, which is why experts have heralded their promise for treating a variety of genetic diseases.

But Colin McGuckin, Professor of Regenerative Medicine at Newcastle University warned the treatment might not be the answer for Mr Cooper.

"Stem cells, although they hold great promise for the future, have not actually been proven to help in the treatment of MS," he said.

"We do not believe it is right for people to go to another country where they could put their lives at risk for an untried treatment which would not be allowed on the NHS."

But Mr Cooper said the disease has wrecked his life and he is willing to risk the treatment.

He said: "I worked all over the world, fixing equipment and I loved my job. Now I couldn't even climb up the stairs let alone climb on a machine to repair it.

"They have their opinion, but they haven't got MS. I've got MS and I'm struggling. I'm too young to sit back in the house and just look out the window."

Mr Cooper returns home on Thursday and says he hopes to see an improvement in his condition within six months.