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

by Chris Centeno, MD /

amniotic stem cell therapy

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.

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.

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!

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

  1. Chip

    Please name the clinic

    Thanks
    Chip

    1. Regenexx Team

      Chip,
      We made the decision to not name the Clinic, but the issue is being addressed.

  2. Gene Rodriguez

    Please do, name the clinic (does it begin with Marion) I just made an appoint with them after a curtsey short consultation with the Chiropractor/operator that did not inspire confidence.

  3. John Pellam

    Are umbilical cord stem cell treatments even allowed in the US?

    1. Regenexx Team

      John,
      If the claim is made that they contain live stem cells they would classified as a 351 Drug, requiring extensive clinical trials, a long approval process, and huge financial resources to be allowed. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/using-common-orthobiologics-explain-fda-1271-regulations/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/fda-crackdown-stem-cell-wildwest/

  4. Donna Hodges

    I signed up for and watched a live seminar on Umbilical stem cells presented by a Chiropractor in Florida. He has an office in Marion, OH. I was very impressed and made an appointment with a local office in Ft Worth, TX referred at the end of the seminar for a free consultation. I was very excited about the prospects and had almost decided to have the infusion for my auto-immune disabilities. I decided to do a little more research before making another appointment. Thank goodness I came across this blog. Thank you so much. However, is there anywhere in the states where this procedure IS offered?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Donna,
      What procedure are you inquiring about?

  5. Steph

    Thank you so much for this information, I will share with my patients.

  6. Paul

    Does the name Ian White, PhD from Florida ring a bell? He works at/for GENTERA CENTER FOR REGENERATIVE MEDICINE. I am 99% sure this man is trustworthy but I would appreciate it very much if you can confirm that.

    FYI; I am from The Netherlands and looking for a treatment with cord stem cells.

    Kind regards,
    Paul

    1. Chris Centeno Post author

      This is an age management practice that has bolted on “stem cells” as a sideline. Meaning they wouldn’t be qualified to have the basic knowledge to get trained to be on our network. In addition, there are no viable cord blood stem cell products sold and used in the US. Save your money…

      1. Peggy

        Hi Chris,

        Where could I get a hip injection using viable cord blood stem cell products? Would I go to Europe? Can you suggest a clinic? I’m very interested…

        Peggy

        1. Regenexx Team

          Peggy,
          Not aware of any viable cord blood treatment.

  7. Louise

    I attended a seminar in texas from a chiropractor office that claimed live stem cell treatment from umbilical cord. It seemed very encouraging. After reading you blog I know have some doubts. Is there a site to find more information on this.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Louise,
      The interesting thing is if you find out out what Amniotic product they’re using, and go to the website of the company that produces that product, you will likely not see claims that the product contains stem cells. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/stem-cell-therapy-seminar-king-still-hasnt-cleaned-act/ and https://regenexx.com/blog/using-common-orthobiologics-explain-fda-1271-regulations/

  8. Myrt

    I went for a consult in Tennessee and the chiropractor went on and on about the benefits because he had the procedure done in Florida. He said they would order frozen umbilical stem cells from a stem cell bank for my procedure. I decided not do to the procedure, but you’re saying there is no viable source of cord stem cells in the US?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Myrt,
      There is no commercially viable source of live and functional umbilical cord stem cells from an FDA 361 registered tissue processor in the US. An umbilical cord bank that is releasing cells directly to a chiropractic office for use in medical treatments that don’t involve hematopoietic reconstitution in pediatric cancers is breaking the law.

  9. Susan

    I recently attended a seminar in Venice Fl by ‘Advanced Regenerative Orthopedics’ based in Tampa Fl. They are selling an alternative to joint replacement which uses umbelical cord stem cells because they contain millions of stem cells compared to any other stem cell treatment.
    I had an X-ray and attended a follow up consultation regarding my knee pain. I do not require joint replacement however I would like to have full range of motion without pain. They guaranteed 100% success in relieving my pain and the cost would be $6200. It’s tempting.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Susan,
      Sadly, not true. There are no live and viable stem cells in umbilical cord products.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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