A couple days ago I saw a syndicated article that was well written and researched describing how “unregulated” stem cell clinics are popping up all over the place and making claims that are unfounded and taking advantage of desperate patients. They cite a group based in California called; Cell Surgical Network. This is a group owned by a plastic surgeon and orthopedic surgeon who solicit physicians and offer them a weekend training program, stem cell processing equipment and marketing help. Here in California, we are seeing one of their more recognized physicians putting on seminars all over the place offering to treat auto-immune diseases such as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Chron’s Disease, Neurological Disorders such as Stroke, Parkinsons, MD and MD, Cardiovascular Conditions such as Congestive Heart Failure, Post MI, COPD, Asthma, Emphysema as well as Orthopedic Issues. What is amazing to me is that they get away with this without having any of their own research or published outcome data. To top it off, it appears that the FDA will take enforcement measures (If they ever get around to it) as their process uses equipment for cell harvesting not approved for human use in the US and adipose tissue (Fat) that the FDA published regulations state are not compliant.
Don’t get me wrong…I am in favor of pushing limits of conventional thinking and encourage innovation. But, it must be ethical, safe and based on evidence from published trials. I found one study that was done that cited some encouraging case studies, but that is hardly enough to call it “evidence based”. What I’m worried about is the small beginning of ethical stem cell clinics that are focused on where we do have evidence (orthopedic use) will be tarnished by unethical clinics and we all get thrown out with the bath water. The Cell Surgical Network have many physicians that joined the group, received a little training and do not have the background to know better. Most of the physicians are cosmetic surgeons, internal medicine, orthopedic surgery and not specialists in non-surgical treatments of orthopedic conditions. As a result, we will definitely see patients with sub-optimal results that will slow down and reduce the number of potential patients seeking good care.
Autologous stem cell applications on patients in a clinical setting is not what big Pharma wants to see. For that matter, neither do orthopedic surgeons and hospitals. I predict that these three powerful entities will try to “take over” the stem cell industry for orthopedics and destroy the innovation and progress of ground up discovery. Can you imagine how an orthopedic surgeon who makes his living operating will recommend stem cell procedures in lieu of surgery? I don’t think so and the evidence shows that the orthopedic surgeon societies are encouraging stem cells as an adjunct to surgery…in other words, let’s do the surgery and add stem cells when we are about to close and the patient will heal better and faster. While that is true, I don’t believe they will encourage many patients in the direction of having competent orthopedic stem cell therapy to avoid surgery.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Norman Deitch