In the United States, close to 600 clinics are offering stem cell therapies and treatments despite the fact that the procedure has not yet been approved by the FDA. These establishments offer a solution to ailments like stroke, spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Though there are many satisfied patients and clinics praising these treatments as a miracle in the field of medicine, critics claim that this field is still based on unproven science. The FDA is analyzing which line crossed they can start to intervene, since some clinics violate safety and had tragic results for some patients like unusual bone growth, complete blindness and even two cases of death. These clinics are not inclined to disclose results whether they succeeded or failed with the treatment since these treatments are in the gray area of the law. They are exempt from the jurisdiction of the law as long as they use the patient’s own stem cells and only minor manipulation is done to these cells.
The FDA has approved so far only of the following stem cell treatments: immune disorders and blood, cancer, and skin grafts for patients with burns.
What are Stem Cells?
These are cells that exist naturally within the body that have the ability to develop into any other cell type. These cells according to studies are responsible for regenerating ailing cells and prevent them from dying. They have the potential to form new cells that can help the body self-repair from any ailment by replacing the dead or damaged cells.
Though the potential for stem cells and how it can change modern medicine is huge, the research and development of these treatments and studies are moving slower than expected and it could take a decade or two before it can become standard medical treatment.
How Stem Cells Work
Through fat harvesting: Doctors harvest fat tissue from the hip, waist or side of the body. The stem cell is then separated from the tissue through centrifuge. After modification, they are then returned to the afflicted part of the body.
Promise of Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy though mostly still experimental treatments have already helped many patients with their ailments. That’s what private stem cell clinics are banking on – the hope of people for a cure.
The shortage of oversight from the government allow some clinics to abuse and take advantage of people with the lack of medical information and their hope for a cure, like charging for an expensive treatment with no assurance of success. Though not many, there are some concerning reports of complications of getting stem cell injections from some private clinics. 3 women who availed of an injection to correct their macular degeneration resulted to complete blindness, while before the procedure they were still able to see, fully capable of living by themselves. Another case was the development of bone fragments in a woman’s eyelids after she had a face-lift using stem cells. The worst report is that two patients passed away when they received the injection.
Separating Hype from Hope
To avoid unfortunate outcomes, do your diligent research first and look for reputable clinics that offer these treatments.
Research your clinic. Check if they have a multidisciplinary team and are all certified by the board of surgeons. Choose also a clinic who can offer other treatments other than stem cells. Beware of clinics that offer only stem cell treatments.
Remember that stem cell therapy is still being tested and isn’t assured of 100% efficacy yet, so patience may be the best course of action for now.