For Dr. Robert Janson-Müller, the science of fresh cell therapy is in his blood.
His grandfather, Dr. Philipp Janson was one of the few doctors who introduced the treatment in Germany. His father, Dr. Wolfgang Janson-Müller continued the work that was eventually passed on to him.
He was exposed to the revolutionary world of fresh cell therapy early on in life. The treatment uses live young cells from a donor animal like sheep to help regenerate damaged cells in the body. Dr. Müller practically grew up in his grandfather and father's clinic where he met the former's patients, some of whom still go to him for their regular treatments.
''A child always wants to grow up like his father and do the same thing. My father left it open for me. He told me I could do whatever I want, the same thing I am doing now for my daughter. I'm also head of a clinic in Munich. This is what I do besides cell treatment. We have a family practice. That is my main job,'' shares the 46-year-old German doctor who recently visited the Philippines to acquaint Filipinos with the science of fresh cell therapy.
Dr. Müller, who owns a fresh cell therapy laboratory and works as head doctor of Med Activ clinic in Munich, says that despite the growing market for it in America and Asia, there are only five doctors in Germany practicing the science. The treatment is known to deter degenerative diseases such as arthrosis, rheumatism and neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis. But it is most popular as an anti-aging treatment. Recently, it has also been used to treat children with autism and Down syndrome.
Yet, Dr. Müller points out that fresh cell therapy is not a miracle cure for aging or these diseases. Some bodies accept the treatment while some don't. And, it doesn't treat every disease known to mankind.
Nevertheless, patients from all over the world still flock to his private clinic at the Prinzregent Hotel in Edenkoben, Germany to avail themselves of the treatment, which does not come cheap. One session would cost about $12,000 or R624,000.
''I don't treat patients with cancer, tuberculosis, AIDS, or those who are pregnant. We don't treat patients with acute inflammations like appendicitis. Aside from that, I need to see if it makes sense. If I don't see a possibility, I say no,'' he explains.
In this 60 Minutes interview, Dr. Müller shares how fresh cell therapy really works and how it can take more than just one, two, 20, 60 or even 100 treatments to get it right. Some may start as young as eight months old or continue the treatment at 99 years old. This just proves that a patient is never too young nor too old for this revolutionary treatment. (Angelo G. Garcia)
STUDENTS AND CAMPUSES BULLETIN (SCB): A lot of people are confused about the difference between stem cell and fresh cell therapy.
ROBERT JANSON-MULLER (RJM): The big mistake is to think about stem cell treatment when we're talking about fresh cell treatment. If you think about stem cell treatment, we all have to picture in our minds a mouse carrying a human ear on her back. It's the beginning of growing organs or tissue.
Fresh cell treatment is made by autonomous cells or special cell lines created to produce something. This is what we are actually thinking about when we say stem cell treatment here. The stem cells are taken out of the bone marrow or the umbilical cord, and are pluripotent.
But fresh cell treatment is a little bit different. The cells that we are using are already developed, they are late, embryonic. I take it from the umbilical cord of the sheep. If there's a need, I can also take cells from the marrow, liver, kidney, or every organ you can think of. The liver cell of the sheep and the liver cell of the human have about 95 percent same structure and function.
The big difference is that I am injecting the cells in the buttock of the patient. The cells are opened by the immune system. There is information in the cells to make something grow, to regenerate, to make the metabolism of the tissue better. This information goes through your body. It works like a zip code of a post office. Then it is assimilated by the organ, which makes it produce something to regenerate. Then, you are going to feel its effect.
SCB: Is it better to use human cells?
RJM: I am very often asked that question. First of all, it's impossible from an ethical point of view to use human cells. But if we go on thinking about it and I consider injecting human cells, these would just be attacked by the immune system. They would be opened and destroyed. They would only give their information away. It would not make any sense. I know some people tried harvesting human cells in China, Russia, and in South America, but there was no benefit.
With stem cells, you try to grow something in the body. In the treatment that I do, there are no human cells replaced by animal cells. I only give a kick. This is the big difference.
NOT A CURE-ALL
SCB: What are the misconceptions you encounter in this new market?
RJM: They always bring up stem cell treatment and I have to tell them the difference. Some patients think that if they get the treatment, they'll become very beautiful. They think all their problems will be solved, that it will be a miracle. It's not possible.
Their expectations are too high so I try to bring it down to a normal level.
SCB: When you lower the people's expectations, do they turn away or are they still interested in taking part in it?
RJM: I think it is always better to have lower expectations and to be surprised afterwards rather than having high expectations and be disappointed because it didn't come true. You always have to be realistic. If somebody is coming to you requesting for a treatment then you have to give him a realistic image of what he can expect.
SCB: Are there any conditions that fresh cell therapy cannot cure?
RJM: They cannot cure chronic diseases. There is no cure for that. The only thing we can do is maintain the patient's condition who are suffering from a chronic disease. There is also no cure for multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and diabetes. You cannot be reckless with this treatment. You can try to do the treatment regularly to maintain or slow down the progression of the disease.
SCB: Are there people who can't be candidates for fresh cell treatment?
RJM: The elder people who are mostly my patients. Eighty percent of my patients have chronic diseases. Twenty percent are being treated for anti-aging. Some are at their 40s, 50s, and even older. The older you get, the more possibility of getting a chronic disease.
I don't treat patients with cancer, tuberculosis, AIDS, appendicitis, and those who are pregnant. Aside from that, I need to see if the treatment being sought by a patient makes sense. If I don't see a possibility, I say no.
SCB: So, who usually gets these treatments?
RJM: In my case, most of my patients are suffering from multiple sclerosis, because my father was also specializing in neurological cases. Children with autism could be in the right area of neurological cases. We have been talking with several people in Manila and looking into the possibility of starting some kind of a program for children with autism here.
SCB: What's the typical procedure before and after the treatment?
RJM: I need a blood test to see if the treatment would be okay. I ask for a medical certificate from a hospital or a family doctor. If possible, I would like to see the patient, talk to him and ask about his complaints.
SCB: What's the success rate?
RJM: If we get four out of 10 or five out of 10, that's really wonderful. The patients stay as they are. Patients who have a chronic disease usually have a relapse every three months. But with the treatment, the relapse is every three years. That already is a success. If they can walk or sit in a wheelchair for many years, or it becomes easier for them to wash themselves, then that is a big improvement.
But to have the full effect of the treatment, you have to undergo several stages. A step-by-step improvement is much better. For patients with chronic diseases, they have to undergo more than one treatment. It is better to come several times.
SCB: Usually, how many?
RJM: We cannot tell. I have patients who've had 50, 60, 80 treatments. There was one patient from France who had about 116 treatments. He started with my grandfather. He's a 54-year-old man with a very difficult chronic disease. But he's doing fine now.
SCB: At what age did he start with the treatment?
RJM: He started very early, at age three or five I guess. My youngest patient is eight months old. He's a Russian boy with Down syndrome. People with Down syndrome have to start early and continue with regular treatments. The earlier you start, the better the effect will be.
SCB: So there is no age restriction?
RJM: There is. I am not very happy treating little children. Having to inject these little butts is not a nice feeling. But if you know why you are doing it, then that makes you go on. I just put some anesthetic cream without giving the full dose. Mostly it's over before they know what happened.
Anyway, the oldest patient I've treated is my grandma, she is 99 years old. She has many conditions but still very active. She even goes out to dine at her favorite restaurant thrice a week.
SCB: How can patients maximize the benefits of the treatment?
RJM: They have to follow a list of things to do such as resting and slowing down. They have to follow certain rules like no smoking, drinking of alcohol and coffee for two weeks. No x-ray. No heavy sport.
I always tell them to think of themselves as a little baby with baby cells. Imagine that you are carrying a little baby with you. You cannot do everything with a baby. You can't go shopping for eight hours, or sun bathe in the beach because sunlight harms the body. You would not give a cigar or whisky to a baby.
SCB: You also do a holistic approach. What is that exactly?
RJM: I try to take the lifestyle treatment by giving them supplements. I try to simulate something in the intestine, immune system, metabolism, digestive system, internal hormone system and try to get it into several sites in the patient.
AN ANCIENT PRACTICE
SCB: It's surprising to find out that this kind of treatment has been around since the 1930s.
RJM: I think it started in 1935, just before the Second World War. Then they began to do research in 1949 or 1950. My grandfather was the one who tried to do something. When my father took over in the middle of the 60s, it was more specialized already in neurological conditions.
SCB: If it's been around that long, then why has it taken so long to reach the public consciousness?
RJM: This is a phenomenon that is happening here in Asia. But it has been popular back in the 1960s in Europe.
SCB: How much has the market grown?
RJM: I'm getting more patients now, especially from the American market and very recently, the Asian market. But I'm not making commercials or promoting it. I'm having this interview in Manila for the first time in my life. I was also interviewed in a TV show and it was also my first time. I never did something like these before.
SCB: Is that surprising?
RJM: It was a little bit surprising, yes (laughs). One week ago, I didn't know that I'm going to sit here today.
SCB: Is there a difference between an American, a European and an Asian patient?
RJM: They have a different mentality. Some patients are telling you more. Between the language, there are certain levels of communication. For me, the Chinese and Russian patients are more difficult to understand. Indonesians and Filipino patients are easier to decipher, along with the American and French. I try to understand them all. The better you understand your patient, the better you know the treatment that you should do.
AN EXPERT IN THE FIELD
SCB: So fresh cell is still famous for anti-aging treatments?
RJM: Yes. It's a biological treatment. Another treatment for anti-aging that others are doing is injecting Botox. It's very, very hard poison. Never do this. Also, injecting collagen is such a big risk. I would not do this. So is the intake of hormone pills.
With fresh cell therapy, your body is producing something. You help your body to produce something. You just have to know what your body will accept.
SCB: How many celebrities have undergone the anti-aging treatment?
RJM: I have several celebrities but I'm not giving out their names (laughs).
SCB: Is there a new advancement in fresh cell therapy?
RJM: There is constant development with the technology. Ten months ago, I've built a new laboratory. I think it has the highest standard in fresh cell therapy treatment in Germany, far from all the others.
But in Germany, in the 1960s to 1980s, all these research about fresh cell therapy were questioned. In the late 1980s, they had trouble with the government. Most of the medical professionals are against it. Suddenly, there's a development with the stem cell and everybody thought it was good, including those who were against it. Nobody is talking about fresh cell treatment anymore. There are only five doctors in Germany who are doing it and the group is too small.
SCB: So there are no new doctors who are getting into the fresh cell therapy?
RJM: I think I am the youngest.
SCB: Were you groomed for this, the family business since you were young?
RJM: I had quite a few patients who knew me as a young boy running through the waiting room (laughs). Most of my patients have been around for a long time and they are very regular.
SCB: Is this something that you really wanted to do?
RJM: That's a very difficult question (laughs). Yes and no. A child always wants to grow up like his father and wants to do the same thing. My father left it open for me. He told me I could do whatever I want, the same thing that I am doing now for my daughter. I'm also head of a clinic in Munich. That is my main job.
SCB: Is your daughter interested in the science of fresh cell therapy?
RJM: My daughter is 12 years old and I don't know what's going to happen to her. If she wants to go in this direction then I will support her. If she's intending to go to another direction to become an actress or a painter, I will support her too.