Blogging from the Caymans Again…

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It’s spring, and again I’m down at our licensed advanced-practice site in Grand Cayman. As you can see above, it’s beautiful down here. That was last night at sunset from the back porch.

Same Day vs. Cultured Stem Cells

The U.S. only allows stem cells to be isolated and used in the same surgical procedure in which they’re taken. However, stem cells can be grown to greater numbers over a few weeks. If there are extra, they can also be saved in cryopreservation for future use.

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Who Is a Good Candidate for This Type of Therapy?

The patients I see here in Cayman tend to fall into one, or both, of two categories. The first is that they have multiple sites to be treated. The second is that they have a diagnosis that doesn’t respond well to same-day stem cells. Let me explain.

Some patients have multiple problem areas. For example, they may have arthritis in both knees and a shoulder rotator cuff tear. Because, unlike other clinics, we know that we need a minimum dose of stem cells to treat each knee and that most older patients won’t hit a high enough dose with a same-day stem cell procedure, growing the stem cells to bigger numbers may be a good option.

The other situation when cultured stem cells may be the best choice is a diagnosis that doesn’t respond well to same-day stem cells. While we can treat most problems with a same-day stem cell procedure, a few things need more cells. For example, anything more than mild hip arthritis may require cultured cells.

The Regenexx Network Now Has Access

All of our national network providers have the option of getting licensed to practice medicine in Grand Cayman and bringing their patients to this licensed advanced-practice site. So this is not exclusive to Colorado providers. Ask your local Regenexx provider if he or she can offer cultured stem cells as an option.

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Beware of US-Based Cultured Stem Cell Scams

While the USFDA has been quite clear that culturing stem cells in the U.S. is not legal without a drug approval, that hasn’t stopped at least two US-based groups from floating that risk. These take two forms: the fake stem cell study and the “self-serve” approach. Let me explain.

I’ve covered one of these cultured-stem-cell businesses on this blog. This group states that they are running a clinical study. However, when you look under the covers, they don’t have the proper FDA approvals for this type of drug research. The other is what I call the “self-serve” approach. This means that there is no faux study, but a doctor will offer to take your fat and will provide the name of a place that can isolate and culture the stem cells. This bizarre attempt at circumventing FDA regulations involves the patient taking their fat sample to the lab and picking up their cultured cells. The idea is that since the patient is the one who is requesting that his or her cells are cultured and stored (and not the doctor), then this is legal. It’s not really, but it is an enchanting fairy tale.

So what can happen to your stored cells when either one or both of these scams are busted by the feds? Your cells are an illegal drug product. They can’t be used by you in any way. Also, they can’t be sent out of the U.S. because that would be the export of an illegal drug product. The money you’ve paid is, therefore, wasted.

The upshot? I love coming down to Grand Cayman. For me it’s great to have options as a licensed physician in the Caymans. Now, all Regenexx network doctors can do the same. Finally, beware of US clinics claiming they can enroll you in a pay-for-play clinical trial or that you need to take your cells to and from a lab for culturing. You might just end up paying a bunch of money only to have your cells lost forever!

The Regenexx-C procedure is not approved by the USFDA and is only offered in countries via license where culture-expanded autologous cells are permitted via local regulations. 

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. View Profile

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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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