Cellaxys: Buffing Your Resume-Stem Cell Edition
This morning I’d like to review the world of resume buffing that happens with stem cell clinics. While I’ll focus on a clinic called Cellaxys, the issues described here are not unique to that clinic as they occur throughout the Internet. Let’s dig in.
Hype in Marketing
There’s a scene in Elf where Will Ferrell sees a sign on a New York restaurant that says “World’s Best Cup of Coffee”. What happens next is shown below:
Meaning that we all tune out the “world’s best” messages because we instinctively know that these aren’t true or are just marketing hype. While that may be common to see in restaurants and on TV ads for the latest widget sold at Walmart, where it’s less common is in clinic advertising. That is, until now.
Hype in Stem Cell Clinics
We rarely see a doctor’s office advertise that they are the world’s best or most advanced unless that claim can be legitimately backed up. Why? In part, medical boards are very specific on what clinic websites can say.
Today we’ll look at a clinic in Las Vagas called Cellaxys run by Matthew Otten, D.O. This clinic isn’t unique, in that the buffing of resumes I’ll show you happens all over the Internet at many different stem cell clinic websites. I’ll begin with the Nevada medical board regulations on advertising:
“An advertisement for health care services that names a health care professional must identify the type of license or certificate held by the health care professional and must not contain any deceptive or misleading information.”
Now let’s compare that to this statement on the front page of the Cellaxys website:
“World’s Most Advanced Stem Cell and PRP Procedures Treating Orthopedic and Spine Injuries, Arthritis and Degenerative Conditions”
IMHO, this statement violates the Nevada state medical board guidelines. Why? Is Cellaxys demonstrably the world’s most advanced stem cell and PRP procedure? Let’s dive in and try to prove that statement.
How Would We Determine the World’s Best or Most Advanced?
If we think back to the recognized world’s best or most advanced clinics, what would they all have in common? Here’s a very short list:
- Research-These clinics all have active research programs and publish frequently. Why is this critical? Leaders in medicine create new procedures, medications, therapies, devices, etc… and that generates peer-reviewed research papers.
- Expertise-These clinics have physicians who perform research and who are frequently asked by professional organizations to share the findings of that research. This is often because these physicians are the first in the world in their fields, so they have the world’s longest experience. Again, this world record expertise often leads to things like book chapters.
For example, the Mayo Clinic performs research in its fields of expertise. Or the doctor who invented microfracture (now retired) and who published the original research on that topic could certainly make the claim that he had the world’s most experience in that surgical technique and therefore performs the world’s best microfracture. While that could be arguable by his competitors, since he taught them, that claim would be close enough. So let’s apply this to Cellaxys.
Has this clinic or clinic system performed any research in the area of stem cells or PRP? I searched the US Library of Medicine PubMed website on the unique name “Otten” and “stem cells”. I found no publications. I then searched the same name under the heading “platelet-rich plasma”. Again, no publications.Join us for a free Regenexx webinar.
Here I first searched for book chapters on the Internet authored by Dr. Otten. I found none. How about being the first in the world or the US to perform these procedures? Nope. In fact, the Cellaxys website first appears in the summer of 2018. The first stem cell procedures done in the US for orthopedic purposes were done in 2005 by myself and partner John Schultz. Maybe prior websites featuring Dr. Otten? Nope. So that’s 13 years too late. Is there research performed by Cellaxys on their website? Nope. How about being asked to speak on the podium at major stem cell therapy conferences? Nope.
In fact, almost all of the links back to the Cellaxys website were IMHO manufactured. Meaning they were articles placed by a webmaster touting Dr. Otten’s expertise.
A Dead Giveaway about Lack of Orthobiologics Expertise
So far, we have a clinic that just appeared a few years ago that claims the be the world’s most advanced, but there really isn’t any hard evidence that I can find that this is a true statement. However, as an actual expert in this field, I can usually find things on these clinic websites that are problematic and show a lack of actual expertise. The Cellaxys website is no different.
One of the dead giveaways that a clinic has little real expertise is how they handle the issue of the umbilical cord or amniotic “stem cells”. Meaning, if the clinic knows very little, they will just repeat what the sales reps selling this stuff tells them, which is that these products contain millions of live stem cells. They won’t really understand that the existing research shows that these products contain no live and functional stem cells. To learn more, see my video below:
So how does Cellaxys handle this issue? This is from their website:
“Certified clinic partners, such as ourselves, receive pre-specified doses of umbilical cord stem cells (in amounts of 5, 15 or 30 million) to be used in therapy.”
Wow, lots of issues here. First, there is no umbilical cord product available for use in the US that has live and functional stem cells. Hence, that’s the first strike. Second, the numbers quoted of 5-30 million by the manufacturers of these products are actually Total Nucleated Cell Counts (TNCC) and NOT stem cell counts. Meaning that when you buy one of the vials of dead umbilical cord tissue that says that it contains 30 million cells, that’s the total cells of all types that are in the vial, of which, only a tiny fraction would be expected to be dead stem cells.
So as you can see, Cellaxys doesn’t know what it doesn’t know about this topic.
Clinics Buffing Resumes
As I said, Cellaxys is not unique. There are dozens of websites that I have seen that make similar claims that can’t be backed up, which means that there are likely hundreds in existence. In the age of the Internet, hyperbole that can’t be verified is to be expected, but these clinics also answer to an even higher authority than the FTC. They also all answer to their state medical or other alternative medicine boards.
The upshot? I couldn’t confirm the claims of one clinic, called Cellaxys in Las Vegas. However, this clinic isn’t unique. As a consumer, do your homework looking for things like publications by that clinic or research listed on their website performed by that clinic or by the clinic chain that all use the same exact techniques. In the meantime, like I always say, beware of the stem cell wild west!