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FBI hunt pair who sold mum £15,000 multiple sclerosis 'cure'

Posted Jan 14 2009 8:25pm

Sundaymail-uk

Jun 8 2008 Exclusive by Raymond Hainey

MULTIPLE sclerosis victim Janice Reed thought her prayers had been answered when she read about a pioneering cure that injected sufferers with stem cells.

Advanced Cell Therapy promised a 90 per cent success rate and claimed one wheelchair- bound victim walked again.

But mum-of-two Janice, 47, is £15,000 out of pocket and still needs a walking stick.

And the people behind her treatment in Holland are on the run after being indicted on fraud charges by the FBI.

Janice is one of hundreds who claim ACT bosses Laura Brown and Steve Van Rooyen exploited their desperation.

She said: "I saw no improvement at all. Now I'm sure it was all just a lot of baloney."

Experts have dismissed the 'cure', in which stem cells from umbilical cords are injected to regenerate damaged nerves.

Fines The procedure is illegal in Britain and the US firm who supplied the stem cells say they were meant for research.

Hairdresser Janice, of Aberdeen, was diagnosed in 2000 with MS, which causes the nervous system to degenerate.

She paid Swiss-based ACT £15,000 for stem cell jabs in 2006 and was booked into a Rotterdam clinic run by Preventative Medicine.

Months later, the Dutch health ministry banned PMC from using stem cells over fears they were not fit for human use.

Officials warned patients risked being infected with HIV and hepatitis.

Janice said: "They were taking chances with lives."

ACT bosses Brown and Van Rooyen are wanted by the FBI on 51 fraud charges relating to former company Biomark. They are accused of making false claims about stem cell therapy and face up to 20 years in jail.

FBI assistant attorney Randy Chartash said: "This type of fraud is especially harmful as it victimises people in the most vulnerable situations and individuals who are suffering from an incurable disease."

Brown and Van Rooyen are understood to have fled to South Africa.

No one at ACT was available for comment. PMC said Janice must speak to ACT about a refund.

The firm added: "I'm not sure they are still operative."

The Multiple Sclerosis Society said hundreds of British people have paid ACT for treatment.

They added: "We would never encourage people to take this kind of treatment. We have heard stories about people selling their houses to pay for what are unproven treatments.

"They are desperate and willing to try anything."

r.hainey@sundaymail.co.uk

'I saw no improvement at all..the treatment was a lot of baloney. This firm is preying on vulnerable people' MS SUFFERER JANICE REED

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