Dr. Oz said stem-cell research isn't a futuristic sci-fi concept, but something that can improve people's lives much sooner than we realize.
On the Dec. 12 episode of the Dr. Oz Show, he spoke to TV journalist Meredith Vieira about her husband's stem-cell clinical trial for multiple sclerosis.
Vieira, 59, has made many sacrifices for her husband Richard Cohen's multiple sclerosis. In 2011, Meredith left the "Today Show" after five years, in part to spend more time with her Richard, who's legally blind and walks with a cane after MS ravaged his arms and legs.
"Illness is a family affair," Vieira told Dr. Oz. "All of us are living with it."
Cohen, a former producer for CNN, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 25, before he and Vieira met. The couple has been married since 1986 and has three children.
Richard, 65, told Dr. Oz he recently enrolled in a stem-cell clinical trial, which he hopes can one day cure his disease. Multiple sclerosis, a progressive neurological disorder, is incurable but stem-cell research could pave the way toward a cure some day.
A stem cell is a generic "mother" cell that can make exact copies of itself indefinitely and has the potential to become any type of cell in the body. In Cohen's case, the bone marrow from his sternum was extracted and is being transformed to become nerve stem cells that will later be injected into his spinal fluid.
Dr. Saud Sadiq, a neurologist at the Tisch MS Research Center of New York, is overseeing the stem-cell clinical trial that Cohen is participating in. Like Dr. Oz, Sadiq is hopeful that stem-cell research will one day be able to cure a wide range of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
Cohen said he doesn't want to get too excited about the chances of curing his MS, but hopes stem-cell research might one day enable him to regain his eyesight and walk without a cane.
For now, he is keeping his expectations low to avoid disappointment. "Expectations are dangerous," said Cohen. "But any marginal improvement would be huge."
In a separate segment of his show, Dr. Oz discussed the Daniel Plan weight-loss program with Pastor Rick Warren, whose congregation has lost over 250,000 pounds so far. Warren said the faith-based diet and workout program has helped him lose over 30 pounds and dramatically improved his health.