Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Interview with Dr. Steven Levy, President of MD Stem Cells

MD Stem Cells Logo

StemCellsFreak recently had a small, text-based interview with Dr. Steven Levy, who is President of MD Stem Cells and active in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and regenerative medicine. A brief biographical note, provided by Dr. Levy himself, has been included at the end of the interview.

StemCellsFreak(SCF): According to your website “MD Stem Cells is a consultancy providing information, education, facilitation and access to advanced Stem Cell and Alternative Medicine treatments in the United States and Europe”. What kinds of medical conditions do you, or your associates, treat? Is there evidence for the safety or efficacy of the treatments you offer for each of these conditions?

Dr. Steven Levy: We concentrate primarily on retinal and optic nerve conditions. Our evidence is anecdotal as we have not published. We average 4 lines of visual improvement- for example 20/200 (6/60) to 20/60 (6/18). We have seen improvements in visual fields on automated testing both in Mean Standard Deviation and Pattern Standard Deviation. We have not had any loss of vision or serious adverse events.


Dr. Steven Levyn


SCF: Are the cells grown prior to the treatment?

Dr. Steven Levy: No, this is not permitted in the United States or European countries to which we refer.

SCF: How much do you charge for your services?

Dr. Steven Levy: For referrals to various providers the total fees may range from approximately $7000 USD to $30,000 USD. In the US we provide eye treatment for $19,600 USD which includes bone marrow derived stem cells separated by a FDA cleared class 2 device, and delivered by retrobulbar, subtenons, intravitreal and intravenous. It includes the surgical center where the procedure is performed, all physicians involved including anesthesiologist, orthopedic surgeon and retinal surgeon, pre and post op office visits and hyperbaric oxygen for 3 sessions following the procedure.

SCF: What kind of training do you and/or your associates have in stem cells?

Dr. Steven Levy: I have training in medicine and ophthalmology and several years working in the pharmaceutical and biotech fields as well as the stem cell field. Other providers have specific specialty training - fellowship training in retina, training in bone marrow aspiration in orthopaedics and so forth.

SCF: According to your site, you and your associates offer treatments that only involve adult stem cells. Is there a particular reason for this or do you just try to avoid legal issues?

Dr. Steven Levy: Only autologous or adult stem cells may be used without going through the process of drug development. We choose to work with bone marrow derived stem cells for ophthalmology as they are safe for the injection procedures we use. There are pharmaceutical companies attempting to convert embryonic, cord blood and induced pluripotent stem cells into drugs.

SCF: Have you done or participated in any clinical trials involving stem cells? Is your work published anywhere?

Dr. Steven Levy: No clinical trials or current publications on stem cells.

SCF: To my knowledge the only currently FDA approved stem cell treatment is hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. How can you be 100 % sure that the treatments you offer are safe?

Dr. Steven Levy: As you point out, autologous hematopoietic stem cells are considered safe for transplantation by FDA. Allogenic bone marrow transplants have been performed safely for decades. With respect to ophthalmology, we are using injection techniques and not surgery. We have seen no adverse reactions and believe they are completely safe.

SCF: Why should a client choose your company and your associates over the on growing competition?

Dr. Steven Levy: In our opinion the success of our ophthalmology procedure in achieving maximal benefit depends on the following factors:
  • The technique in which the bone marrow is harvested is critical to obtaining a high stem cell count. There are pockets in the marrow where the stem cells are present and a proper, extremely slow draw is required to obtain bone marrow tissue and not pull in peripheral blood diluting the stem cells. Our orthopedic surgeon is an expert at this. Our last total nucleated cell harvest was almost 2 billion cells (see first press release)
  • The separation of the stem cells is critical. We use an FDA cleared class 2 device which processes the bone marrow tissue and separates the cells gently while maintaining viability.
  • The placement of the adult stem cells is critical. It is paramount that injections be done safely and be placed adjacent to eye exactly. If intravitreal is suggested it must be done perfectly. This is why a retinal surgeon is key- he has the years of experience to do this perfectly verses a general doctor or even a regular ophthalmologist who is not as experienced.
  • The inclusion of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) may improve early survival and mobilization of the stem cells.
  • We are very proud of this outstanding group of physicians and surgeons performing state-of-the-art adult stem cell treatments for eye disease with the latest stem cell separation equipment- all at a beautiful surgical center in Florida. We believe this offers an opportunity for visual improvement depending on your eye disease and represents the most advanced approach to adult stem cell treatment for ophthalmic disease available anywhere in the world.

SCF: What is your opinion on embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells. Is one better than the other? Or does each have its applications?

Dr. Steven Levy: Embryonic by itself has been shown to cause tumors in about 10% of transplants in animals. Driving embryonic towards a particular cell line as Advanced Cell Technology is doing, and excluding embryonic cells, may be of value. Similarly iPS will be driven towards a cell line. Both will likely be used in pharmaceutical drug development to create 'vials' of stem cells to sell. Similarly cord blood stem cells may be developed as a 'universal' donor stem cell line.

SCF: Are you for or against embryonic stem cell research? Please explain.

Dr. Steven Levy: The value of embryonic is primarily the ease of research- no need to harvest individually from each animal as in autologous stem cells. There is still much to be learned and we support continued research with embryonic stem cells. As mentioned, I believe it is unlikely there will be direct use of embryonic stem cells for clinical purposes.

SCF: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Steven Levy: Thanks for the opportunity to get on your website. I believe we are offering the most advanced treatment option for eye patients available and our approach will be the standard of eye stem cell care for years to come. There is still much to be learned about stem cells and in the future I am certain we will be able to regrow entire eyes and specifically regrow absent or damaged areas of the visual system. But for the foreseeable future our approach will be the best available for degenerative eye disease.



Steven Levy MD Brief Biography

Dr. Levy completed his medical degree at the Albany Medical College in New York through their 6 year accelerated program in conjunction with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He served his internship and residency in Ophthalmology and then completed a fellowship in Cornea and Anterior Segment Surgery at Ohio State University.
Dr. Levy's interest in leading edge medical technology and advancing medical care is long standing. He developed the first robotic approach to refractive eye surgery in mid 1980s and was actively involved in exploring areas of translational research including nanotechnology for ophthalmic applications. He has lead clinical advances in small incision and topical anesthetic cataract surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. His contributions to medical education include the training of many residents and setting the standard for minimally invasive eye surgery at three ophthalmology residency programs. More recently he has helped develop a new injection approach for adult stem cell treatments in ophthalmology resulting in visual improvements for patients with otherwise progressive and incurable retinal and optic nerve disease.
Following 18 years in the practice of ophthalmology, Dr. Levy transitioned into life science and healthcare business development. Located in Connecticut, he serves as President of the Acoma Group which provides business development and executive search services for biopharmaceutical, medical and healthcare companies globally. He is also President of MD Stem Cells, a leading provider of adult stem cell patient facilitation services for various diseases including those affecting the eye. He serves as Chief Medical Officer for Impose Technologies, a prominent Health Information Technology, DICOM & PACS provider and is actively contributing to the development of new Electronic Medical Record extender technologies. Dr. Levy is an Advisory Board member for IndogenBio, a global Life Sciences corporation. He is a consultant with Gerson- Lehrman providing advice within the clinical and life sciences. Dr. Levy is strongly focused on early stage companies and enhancing their development from innovation to fundraising to networking.

7 comments:

  1. Very interesting, but why don't they publish their results? It would be very encouraging.

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  2. because he is a Snake oil salesman.

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  3. Why do you say he is a snake oil salesman

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  4. because i am a troll

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  5. don't believe everything you read online; check with your eye doctor if this is even authentic. I doubt so. If it's true, it'd be big news, on TV, newspaper and stuff.....

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  6. Its really great review to know about this information..Thanks a lot for sharing your post.

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  7. Yes, it is interesting. We cannot believe since he is not providing all details

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