Embattled Bonita Springs doctor back in stem cell business

Dr. Zannos Grekos

Photo by Allie Garza

Dr. Zannos Grekos

Dr. Zannos Grekos is back in the stem cell business in his Bonita Springs office even though state health-care regulators suspended his license in February.

Grekos, a cardiologist, is chief medical officer of a new company, Intercellular Sciences, which "follows in the footsteps" of his earlier practice called Regenocyte Therapeutics, according to Intercellular's website.

Intercellular operates at 9500 Bonita Beach Road where Regenocyte is located.

The new company website says all stem cell treatment is done in the Dominican Republic, which follows how Grekos was doing the therapy before he faced state sanctions for performing it in his Bonita Springs practice.

Staff at Intercellular Sciences could not be reached for comment.

The state health department is aware of Grekos involvement with Intercellular but cannot say whether serving as chief medical officer means he is actively practicing medicine against the suspension, health department spokeswoman Ashley Carr said.

Incorporation papers were submitted and filed May 15 for Intercellular with the state Division of Corporations, but Grekos is not listed as an agent or manager, the documents show.

The registered agent, Mike Calcaterra, of North Fort Myers, serves as president and chief operating officer of Intercellular. He could not be reached for comment.

Several years ago, Grekos' medical practice evolved into stem cell therapy, where patients would come to his practice in Bonita Springs for medical evaluation and a blood sample would get sent to a laboratory in Israel for cultivating the stem cells. The blood would then be sent to the Dominican Republic.

The patient would travel to the island nation and Grekos' physician partner there would inject the stem cells into the patient. The hope is the therapeutic healing abilities of the stem cells would help the patient buy more time against congestive heart failure, lung disease and other conditions where conventional treatment was no longer effective.

He held stem cell educational programs for potential patients in Naples and beyond and has garnered considerable support among patients who say he saved their lives.

But Grekos ran afoul of the Department of Health when he started doing the stem cell injections at his Bonita Springs practice, and where the patient's blood in at least one case was not sent to Israel but to a laboratory on the state's east coast, state records show. The state said he was performing an unorthodox procedure that was not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

His medical license was originally restricted in February, 2011, when state health attorneys said he performed the treatment on a 69-year-old Naples woman.

The patient was sent home the same day still feeling the effects of sedation and her conditioned worsened. She was hospitalized and tests showed significant brain swelling. She later was taken off life support.

The state told Grekos in an emergency order restricting his license not to do anything with stem cells or bone marrow in his practice.

The state said in a second action in March to suspend his license that he did not follow the restriction when he did a stem cell treatment on a 77-year-old man from Newburgh, Ind. The man was seeking help for pulmonary hypertension but suffered cardiac arrest in Grekos' practice the same day as the treatment. He died later at a local hospital.

Grekos faces disciplinary action in both cases and has elected for an administrative hearings with the first case tentatively scheduled for four days starting Oct. 16.

The state also amended its first complaint against Grekos to drop the issue of the FDA to instead say he had abandoned the 69-year-old patient when he failed to send her to the hospital for postoperative care. In addition, he did not respond to calls when she was hospitalized, according to state records.

This past week, Grekos' attorney, Richard Ozelie of Boca Raton filed paperwork for a delay in the Oct. 16 hearing. The case has been rescheduled numerous times in the past.

Reached this past week, Ozelie said he did not have the time to discuss Grekos' new practice or the case because he was preparing for another trial.

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