Beware of the Amniotic and Umbilical Cord “Stem Cell” Research Bait and Switch!

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If you read this blog, you know that physicians using amniotic and umbilical cord “stem cells” are involved in one form of bait-and-switch fraud in that they claim live cells but are injecting dead tissue. Today one member of our online team notified me of an Ohio chiropractic website that seems to have stolen the template for the Regenexx website and is involved in a new form of misinformation fraud: Bait-and-switch research. Let me explain.

Our Research Background

We invented the orthopedic stem cell procedure space using injections to treat hip, knee, and shoulder arthritis and low back discs. Nobody on earth has been performing these procedures longer, and through the years, we have tried hard to publish. In fact, we currently list 23 separate research studies that we have authored on stem cells and orthobiologics that use Regenexx procedures. As of this past April, we had published about half of the world’s research on orthopedic stem cell procedures using bone marrow (based on the number of patients results reported). We also owe a great debt of gratitude to pioneers like Phillipe Hernigou, who began treating bone diseases, like avascular necrosis and fracture nonunion, back in the ’90s.

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The Principle Behind Bait-and-Switch Research

A common ploy in the stem cell treatment space is to substitute medical research that to the uneducated eye looks like it’s about the treatment a clinic is using but is really about a completely different treatment. The most common one we see is a clinic that uses a same-day stem cell prep from fat and places research on their website that uses culture-expanded stem cells from bone marrow. Now we’re beginning to see the evolution of that consumer fraud to fit the amniotic and cord stem cell space. Here we see clinics using dead amniotic and umbilical cord tissue and then listing papers that used live culture-expanded amniotic or cord stem cells or stem cells derived from bone marrow or elsewhere.

Why Would This Be a Problem?

In the case of dead cells, they obviously can’t behave like live cells. Hence, if a clinic uses any of the amniotic or cord products on the market today, based on what we have seen and despite the claims of sales reps hawking this stuff, it’s all dead tissue. So listing studies that use live stem cells is an obvious fraudulent misrepresentation.

In the case of a clinic using a same-day stem cell procedure with bone marrow or fat and posting research about using isolated and culture-expanded cells, these are apples and oranges. Same-day stem cell procedures have a huge mix of cells with the minority being stem cells. Culture-expanded procedures (like the one our licensed Grand Cayman site uses) isolate the stem cells and then grow a pure (but heterogenous) population of stem cells to bigger numbers. Based on our extensive experience, these two different types of stem cell mixes behave completely differently.

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The Chiro Clinic in Ohio

So let’s look at the studies listed on the chiro clinic website. Note that the clinic seems to use an off-the-shelf, dead umbilical-cord product.

  1. An ACL study that uses culture-expanded bone marrow stem cells to treat ACLs after surgery
  2. Two knee arthritis studies that used adipose-derived and culture-expanded stem cells for knee arthritis
  3. A knee arthritis study that used culture-expanded umbilical cord cells
  4. A knee arthritis study that used apheresis mobilized hematopoietic stem cells
  5. Our study in knee arthritis that used a specific protocol of culture-expanded bone marrow cells

Summary? All of these listed studies constitute fraudulent and unethical marketing as none of these have anything to do with any stem cell treatment that is permitted in the U.S. In fact, all of these would be illegal in the U.S., and none of these constitute any therapy the chiro clinic is actually using. However, the whole reason for including this research is to add gravitas (that doesn’t really exist) to the treatment being offered.

The upshot? Listing research that has nothing to do with the therapy a stem cell clinic uses has been a common form of bait-and-switch fraud for years now. However, to see the chiropractic clinics begin to use this type of misinformation is new. What’s unsettling is that unless you read this blog, there’s no way for an unsuspecting patient to easily know that they’re not reading research that applies to the therapy being advertised. So please share this blog with friends and family so they know not to be duped!

If you have questions or comments about this blog post, please email us at [email protected]

NOTE: This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.

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