Cord Blood: Yes, Virginia, There Is a Stem Cell Santa?

By Chris Centeno, MD /

Receive a Regenexx® Patient Info Packet by email and learn why it's a superior regenerative solution.

cord-blood-stem-cell-injectionsI have been secretly hoping that one of the many sales reps that have been hitting our and other practices isn’t an idiot peddling magic reindeer pixie dust. You see, for the last 24 months, we and others have been bombarded by sales pitch after sales pitch concerning vials of stem cells that come from some part of a live birth. First, it was amniotic stem cells and then chorionic stem cells, and, now, the most recent sales pitch is for cord-blood stem cells. I have always wanted to believe, like an older kid believing in Santa after he’s been told by his friends that Santa isn’t real. Why? I want to have another source of stem cells that come from otherwise discarded fetal tissue very badly. The more stem cell tools I have, the better. However, our recent scientific tests on a cord-blood product have me wanting, like Virginia, to write the newspaper, to be reassured that the stem cell Santa exists. Let me explain.

Fetal Tissues

When a baby is delivered, there are many things discarded: the amniotic fluid; placental tissues, like the amniotic sac; and the umbilical cord. I’ve blogged before about my initial excitement that these tissues might have live stem cells that could help patients. However, after testing numerous amniotic products and then watching the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation test them, I was disappointed. It turns out that despite what the sales reps selling these vials of tissue claim, they are dead tissue products. The sophisticated lab tests showed that these products contain no significant numbers of live stem cells. This little inconvenient fact hasn’t prevented numerous clinics from committing rampant consumer fraud by claiming that they are injecting live stem cells when they use these products.

The New Cord-Blood Stem Cell Marketing Blitz

The cord-blood banking industry is fascinating. So far, it’s stayed out of the stem cell clinic fray. Why? I always thought that the industry was smarter than the silly tissue vendors claiming that there were live stem cells in their amniotic and placental products. However, these last six months have proven me wrong.

Cord blood is what it sounds like, the blood from the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord is what connects the growing fetus to the womb. The blood inside does have some stem cells that should be very active because of their very young age.

About a year ago, I got a call from a cord-blood bank that wanted us to use their product to inject orthopedic patients. They claimed it had copious stem cells. I knew enough about how cord blood was regulated to know that used this way, this was a new drug that would require a full FDA approval, costing at least tens of millions of dollars and taking a decade or more to complete. When I confronted the medical director of the cord-blood bank about these issues, he begrudgingly admitted that this use would require a new FDA approval, which they didn’t have. Hence, I forgot about the issue until about six months ago when I began getting e-mails from colleagues that they, too, were getting hit up with cord-blood products.

What’s in Cord Blood?

While many sales reps claim that cord blood is a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells (the kind that might help orthopedic conditions), it doesn’t contain this stem cell type in abundance. Those cells live in another part of the cord called the Wharton’s jelly. So, right off the bat, the sales reps hawking this stuff are misrepresenting their products.

Testing a Cord-Blood Product in the Lab

The IOF received several calls from southern California physicians over this past few months, relaying that a local clinic and cord-blood company were sponsoring full-page ads in the local newspapers telling consumers that they were performing stem cell injections. When one physician did some investigating, he found out that what was being injected was a cord-blood product produced by a company called Invitra. After another physician had been hit up by sales reps for Invitra, who claimed that this cord-blood product had live and useful stem cells, he arranged for a sample of the Invitra product to be sent to the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation (IOF) lab for testing .

The IOF extensively tested the product in the lab many different ways, all designed to determine if this product had live stem cells or any live cells for that matter. I really wanted to believe, like Virginia, that this product or others like it have live stem cells. Why? Because having more tools helps patients. However, was I willing to trust a medical sales rep who said that the product had live cells? No. That’s like trusting a used-car salesman who says that the sedan you want has only had one elderly owner from Pasadena and had never been in a fender bender. No thanks, I’ll get the Carfax report.

What did the IOF testing show? There is no stem cell Santa Claus in his cord-blood product. In other words, there are no viable stem cells in the Invitra ECM Suspension product. In fact there are very few viable cells at all. How was this determined?

The video below goes through the tests one by one:

The upshot? Like Virginia, I really want to believe in the stem cell Santa Claus present in fetal-tissue products. While I desperately want to believe, the scientific data continues to prove the opposite—that these are dead cell products. Hence, the data continues to show that representing these products as containing live stem cells is consumer fraud. Thanks to the IOF for agreeing to test this product at the request of interested providers!

Category: Latest News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

7 thoughts on “Cord Blood: Yes, Virginia, There Is a Stem Cell Santa?

  1. Deane Williams

    Please enlighten us why blood transfusions and stem cell injections (from other than one’s self) do not cause a rejection attack by the immune system but implanting an organ from some one else does. I do not understand the difference. Both come from some forign body.
    Thanks for explaining that.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Deane,
      1. Regenexx uses only the patients own stem cells and platelets which eliminates ALL possibility of rejection. 2. The Invitra (product tested in Blog) website lists possible Adverse Reactions on bottom right of page:http://www.invitrx.com/invitra-ecm/ 3.Blood for blood transusions is matched for blood type, like O, A, etc., and for Rh factor, so rejection is rare. 4. Patients who recieve organs from organ donors are matched as well as possible, but all organ recipients stay on anti-rejection drugs for life as rejection is a constant threat.

  2. Dan

    Looks like Invitra is a fertility clinic?? Why would a fertility clinic be promoting umbilical cord injections?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Dan,
      Looks like the Invitra ECM Suspension product is manufactured by a Company called Invitrix. Please see: http://www.invitrx.com/invitra-ecm/

  3. Susan Engdall

    Would this article pertain to Amniotic Stem Cell Therapy??? I just attended a seminar for this.
    They state “There is no threat of patient rejection because the amniotic cell fluid has no antibodies to cause rejection and all consenting donors go through a rigorous screening process, as determined by the FDA and the American Association of Tissue Banks.”
    They also state” their injections contain naturally occurring anti-inflammatory agents, such as Cytokinins and growth factors, which stimulate tissue repair. These can not be added to adult stem cells”

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Susan,

      The issue with Amniotic “Stem Cell” Therapy products is simply that they contain no live stem cells. They contain some growth factors, but less than PRP, which is considerably less expensive and being your own blood, much safer. In terms of “can not be added to adult stem cells”, that is inaccurate as per Regenexx stem cell treatment. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/amniotic-stem-cells-for-sale/ and http://www.regenexx.com/amniotic-stem-cells-great-deception/ and http://www.regenexx.com/blog/orthopedic-stem-cell-treatment/

    2. Chris Centeno Post author

      Susan, yes this applies to amniotic stem cell therapy. There are no living stem cells, so if that’s what they’re calling this treatment it’s a scam. There are helpful growth factors and cytokines, but based on our testing far less than there is a simple and much, much less expensive platelet-rich plasma shot. So don’t waste your money.

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.
View Profile

Get Blog Updates by Email

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Regenerative procedures are commonly used to treat musculoskelatal trauma, overuse injuries, and degenerative issues, including failed surgeries.
Select Your Problem Area
Shoulder

Shoulder

Many Shoulder and Rotator Cuff injuries are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.

  • Rotator Cuff Tears and Tendinitis
  • Shoulder Instability
  • SLAP Tear / Labral Tears
  • Shoulder Arthritis
  • Other Degenerative Conditions & Overuse Injuries
Learn More
Cervical Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Knee

Knees

Knees are the target of many common sports injuries. Sadly, they are also the target of a number of surgeries that research has frequently shown to be ineffective or minimally effective. Knee arthritis can also be a common cause for aging athletes to abandon the sports and activities they love. Regenerative procedures can be used to treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. They can even be used to reduce pain and delay knee replacement for more severe arthritis.

  • Knee Meniscus Tears
  • Knee ACL Tears
  • Knee Instability
  • Knee Osteoarthritis
  • Other Knee Ligaments / Tendons & Overuse Injuries
  • And more
Learn More
Lower Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Hand & Wrist

Hand & Wrist

Hand and wrist injuries and arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and conditions relating to overuse of the thumb, are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Hand and Wrist Arthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Trigger Finger
  • Thumb Arthritis (Basal Joint, CMC, Gamer’s Thumb, Texting Thumb)
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More
Elbow

Elbow

Most injuries of the elbow’s tendons and ligaments, as well as arthritis, can be treated non-surgically with regenerative procedures.

  • Golfer’s elbow & Tennis elbow
  • Arthritis
  • Ulnar collateral ligament wear (common in baseball pitchers)
  • And more
Learn More
Hip

Hip

Hip injuries and degenerative conditions become more common with age. Do to the nature of the joint, it’s not quite as easy to injure as a knee, but it can take a beating and pain often develops over time. Whether a hip condition is acute or degenerative, regenerative procedures can help reduce pain and may help heal injured tissue, without the complications of invasive surgical hip procedures.

  • Labral Tear
  • Hip Arthritis
  • Hip Bursitis
  • Hip Sprain, Tendonitis or Inflammation
  • Hip Instability
Learn More
Foot & Ankle

Foot & Ankle

Foot and ankle injuries are common in athletes. These injuries can often benefit from non-surgical regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Ankle Arthritis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Ligament sprains or tears
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More

Is Regenexx Right For You?

Request a free Regenexx Info Packet

REGENEXX WEBINARS

Learn about the #1 Stem Cell & Platelet Procedures for treating arthritis, common joint injuries & spine pain.

Join a Webinar

RECEIVE BLOG ARTICLES BY EMAIL

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to the Blog

FOLLOW US

Copyright © Regenexx 2019. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy

*DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.

Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.