Monday, December 17, 2012

Has that stem cell treatment been tested? Better check before paying

Image: Credit: Nissim Benvenisty, via Wikimedia Commons
We’ve written quite a bit about the dangers of stem cell tourism and about unregulated treatments in the U.S. The concern is that people are paying large amounts of money to receive injections of cells that haven’t been tested for safety.

Scientific American recently published a story that’s receiving a lot of attention in stem cell circles that makes clear why these unregulated injections are a problem. It highlights the story of a woman who had received injections in her face of stem cells taken from her own fat. She ended up with bone growing in her eyelid.

The story quotes CIRM grantee Paul Knoepfler, who is a stem cell researcher at UC Davis. He has blogged frequently about his concerns regarding stem cell clinics offering unregulated treatments. In the story he says:
"Many of us are super excited about stem cells, but at same time we have to be really careful. These aren't your typical drugs. You can stop taking a pill and the chemicals go away. But if you get stem cells, most likely you will have some of those cells or their effects for the rest of your life. And we simply don't know everything they are going to do."
CIRM is working with our grantees and with the FDA to help move promising therapies through clinical trials and into doctor’s offices. That process takes time, but through those trials we get some assurance that the cells aren’t going to cause any harm. This page has more information about our initiatives to bring therapies through clinical trials to patients.

A.A.

2 comments:

  1. Once again, the research community is having hysteria over an isolated incident while supporting their own interests instead of those of patients who may be dying and want only to have access to their own stem cells. They simply do not have decades to wait. CIRM says it takes time, but what about those who have no time?Should they just be ignored and left to die? There are lots of studies that have been done on safety. The doctor in the SA article should be sued for malpractice. End of story. Let's hear about the successful stem cell treatments and competent doctors and how they are improving the lives of patients. Face it, everyone in the equation - regulators, researchers, doctors, have conflicts of interest when it comes to allowing patients access to treatment. The only ones without conflicts are the patients themselves.

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  2. The only reason stem cell treatments are risky, because patients are driven to go overseas with no option for treatments here in the U.S. The other reason, since the FDA over-reached in considering autologous stem cells a “drug” and not a medical procedure, state medical boards no longer have jurisdiction in controlling that market. In conclusion, autologous stem cell treatments are risky, because it sets up a lack of oversight from treatments that should be regulated as a medical procedure. FDA does not have infrastructure to oversee and regulate every single medical doctor in the U.S. They need to step aside and let the state medical boards regulate the treatments. FDA over-reaching is the blame to all these treatments going under the radar. The facts still remain that thousands of autologous stem cell treatments have been performed successfully. In comparison to hundreds of chemical drugs autologous stem cell treatments are much much safer. Most importantly, there is no single research publication proving that autologous stem cell treatments “done properly” pose any harm or dangers to the public. I challenge any researcher to publish one.

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