According to a recent news report from the US, 12 people were hospitalized after receiving injections of stem cell products from unauthorized sources.
Stem cell products are more heavily restricted in the US, compared to the EU. Some people may find that their only hope is in this technology and attempt to use it after hearing about all the great benefits of stem cells. But if it illegal, then those people will end up getting the treatments from unauthorized providers. Two companies, Genetech Inc, and Liveyon LLC, carried out those injections. They are being investigated by the FDA right now and there may be serious punishment to both, since those products were not approved for use.
Stem cell products are extremely promising. They offer novel solutions to many diseases. But, while this is an exciting truth, research still need to be done. There are a few cases that stem cell therapies go wrong. In some studies, stem cells cause tumours when injected into patients. There are methods to ensure a safe delivery of those products into the patient’s body, but it costs a lot and requires experienced staff.
Even isolating stem cells from cord blood, is very difficult and if not done properly can ruin the stem cells. Many modern labs that offer this service, take extreme measures to control contamination and make sure that the stem cells extracted from cord blood are not infected by any microorganisms. Transplant centers have to be very careful as well. The process has to be done while avoiding any type of contamination in a clean environment.
It is also critical that the cells administered need to be tested and modified before injected to the patient. Not all stem cell therapies are equal, and protocols exist for such things. Unauthorized, incompetent people may think of it in a very simple way, assume it is simple and attempt to do it without any approval by the FDA.
The FDA approves stem cell therapies for hematopoietic or immunologic reconstitution, but not anything else. This may have driven those people seeking treatments for general pain, osteoarthritis, back pain, a rotator cuff tear with a cyst and pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, to seek help from unauthorized sources.
People need to be informed about such risks and only ask for stem cell services from companies that can prove their competence. It may cost more, but when it comes to health, it is always best to invest in diagnosis, prevention and treatment, as soon as possible. Educating people though is hard. The worst part is that such stories may scare people away from stem cell products. Hopefully it is common sense that as with everything you should judge a situation based on all the information, and when it comes to your health, double check everything.
Usually companies that offer any health related products, will have certifications to do so. Acquiring such certifications is many times very expensive, and companies are proud of them. So, if you do not see a company’s certifications, ask. If they don’t provide credible evidence, reconsider your options.
In the EU we can avoid such stories, because stem cell products are more accessible. I think it should be the same in the US. I think this is what drives people to illegal treatments. I am sure that there is at least one stem cell researcher in the US who would have had the money to do experimental treatments on those 12 people and do it properly.