Coronavirus Episode 6: Regen Med COVID-19 Scams Abound…

By /

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

By submitting the form, you are agreeing that you read and consent to our Privacy Policy. We may also contact you via email, phone, and other electronic means to communicate information about our products and services. We do not sell, or share your information to third party vendors. Your submitted information is used only for the purposes of providing you with information about Regenexx.

This morning I was catching up on some emails from last week and one sent by a colleague was VERY concerning. A skin care clinic offering stem cell treatments for COVID-19! So let’s dig in…

Stem Cells and Coronavirus

There was a stem cell COVID-19 paper placed online last week that was not yet published nor peer-reviewed that I covered on this blog (1). It was an interesting case report of an elderly woman in Wuhan, China (the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak) who was on her death bed in the ICU. They gave her an infusion of culture-expanded MSCs derived from umbilical cords and she quickly recovered. In that blog, I made it VERY CLEAR that these cells were not available here in the US for clinical use. Why? I knew that chiro, cosmetic, and alternative health clinics would soon be offering COVID-19 treatments based on this paper and claiming that the dead cells they use are the same as the live cells used in this paper. Well, we’re there already!

The Ad Sent to My Colleague

This ad was sent by a skincare clinic called “AMA Skincare” in Irvine, California. This is a cosmetic clinic run by a husband-wife team including a non-physician entrepreneur founder and his pediatrician spouse. Interestingly, this is a skin care LASER clinic with a pediatrician medical director that is advertising that they now treat joints, autoimmune diseases, liver/kidney/heart/lung disease, and neurologic disorders with “stem cells”.

This is the ad I was sent which I will pull apart (ad in italics/bold and my comments in brackets []):

“Just in case…. the science is clear – Stem Cell treatments have been shown to cure even the most severe cases of Coronavirus Covid-19.”

[What is this statement based on? A new pilot study which was a small RCT of 7 patients who were given 50-100 million, culture-expanded MSCs (2). 5/7 of the patients had severe COVID-19 cases and two just had viral pneumonia (common type). The two common type patients were recovered and discharged and the other four were listed as recovered but seem to have still been in the hospital at the time the paper was submitted. Three severe cases were recruited for the placebo group and the outcomes were that one died, one still was in respiratory distress (ARDS), and one was listed as stable. The treated patients showed a decrease in the inflammatory cytokine storm so prevalent in COVID-19. So while this early research looks promising, the statement that stem cells have been shown to cure the most severe cases of COVID-19 is quite a stretch.]

“YES… we have the needed Mesenchymal Stem Cells.
NO… we are NOT treating virus infected patients in our office.
YES… these powerful Stem Cells can be administered at home.

MAYBE… depending on permission, these powerful Stem Cells can be administered at a hospital.”

[This is where this ad is very misleading. It claims that the clinic is in possession of allogeneic culture-expanded mesenchymal stem cells like the ones used in this study. What did the doctors in the study use? It appears they used mesenchymal stem cells modified with an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE-2).

The only legal access that the skincare clinic could have to something they believe contains mesenchymal stem cells is a Wharton’s Jelly (WJ) product described on their website. Does this WJ product have mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)? Does it have modified ACE-2 MSCs? Nope. It has neither.

What is Wharton’s Jelly?

The clinic here uses a product that contains Wharton’s Jelly which is found in umbilical cords. The idea is that this is MSC rich when it’s taken right from a live birth. However, when it’s processed, bottled, frozen, transported, and then shocked thawed in a clinic like this, it’s ALL DEAD. More on that below.

Commercially Available Wharton’s Jelly Products DO NOT Have Live and Functional MSCs

Many authors have published or presented at large scientific conferences that commercially available birth tissue products do not have live and functional mesenchymal stem cells (3-5). This is a study performed first in our advanced stem cell lab and then replicated at the Colorado State University Translational Medicine Institute:

old age stem cells

What does this show? Five commercially available Wharton’s Jelly and Umbilical Cord blood products are on the left. The lab culture there shows all white, which means no stem cells. The test wells on the right with the purple dots show the growth of stem cells from middle-aged and elderly bone marrow. Hence, any product that this clinic could buy doesn’t have any live and functional MSCs nor does it have any that have been genetically modified with the ACE-2 gene.

So Is This a Scam?

Merriam-Webster defines “scam” as a “fraudulent or deceptive act or operation”. (6). So is it fraudulent or deceptive to say that the research is conclusive that MSCs can cure coronavirus? Yes. Is it deceptive to say your Wharton’s Jelly product with no live or viable MSCs is the same thing as a living, genetically modified MSC product created in China? Yes. My biggest concern is that some loved ones will get diagnosed with COVID-19 over the next few weeks and then go buy a bottle of Wharton’s Jelly from this clinic and take it home and inject it into themselves or others.

Avoid Chiro, Cosmetic, and Alternative Health Clinics Offering COVID-19 Treatments!

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with COVID-19, there’s only one thing you should be doing. Seeing your board-certified family or internal medicine PHYSICIAN or hospital ER about what to do next. That doesn’t include a trip to your chiro, cosmetic LASER place staffed by a pediatrician, or your acupuncturist. Please take this seriously, especially if you’re over the age of 65 and/or have chronic health conditions.

You will likely see many clinics offering fake “stem cell” treatments for COVID-19 over the next few weeks. Please do not buy into these sales pitches. Again, if you need to be in the hospital, that’s where you should be.

The upshot? As I always say, you can’t make this stuff up! This sales e-mail is VERY concerning. We all need to work together to get through this crisis and that doesn’t include those trying to profit off of it by selling or promoting misleading products!

_____________________________

References:

(1) Liang B, et al. Clinical remission of a critically ill COVID-19 patient treated by
human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells. https://3n30av2dln0g4fmlc03hpv0p-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/202002.00084v1.pdf.pdf. Accessed 3/15/20.

(2) Leng Z et al. Transplantation of ACE2- Mesenchymal Stem Cells Improves the Outcome of Patients with COVID-19 Pneumonia. Aging and Disease.
2020 , 0 (0): 216-228 https://doi.org/10.14336/AD.2020.0228

(3) Berger D, Lyons N, Steinmetz, N. In Vitro Evaluation of Injectable, Placental Tissue-Derived Products for Interventional Orthopedics. Interventional Orthopedics Foundation Annual Meeting. Denver, 2015. https://interventionalorthopedics.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/AmnioProducts-Poster.pdf

(4) Becktell L, Matuska A, Hon S, Delco M, Cole B, Fortier L. Proteomic analysis and cell viability of nine amnion-derived biologics. Orthopedic Research Society Annual Meeting, New Orleans, 2018. https://app.box.com/s/vcx7uw17gupg9ki06i57lno1tbjmzwaf

(5) Panero, A, Hirahara, A., Andersen, W, Rothenberg J, Fierro, F. Are Amniotic Fluid Products Stem Cell Therapies? A Study of Amniotic Fluid Preparations for Mesenchymal Stem Cells With Bone Marrow Comparison. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 2019 47(5), 1230–1235. https://doi.org/10.1177/0363546519829034

(6) Miriam-Webster Dictionary. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/scam Accesed 3/15/20.

Category: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

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

7 thoughts on “Coronavirus Episode 6: Regen Med COVID-19 Scams Abound…

  1. Steve

    Seeing 3.8% mortality rate. You seem to say othwise. What is it globally?

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      Please read my prior blogs on that subject.

  2. Daniel

    Yes, compared to the seasonal flu, coronavirus is, so far at least, a minor disease outbreak. So far, the real disaster is the human response to this virus, not the virus itself, but I am not trying to judge which responses are affective and which ones are not.

    I like examining data and looking for patterns and making predictions accordingly, so I did so in this case, and arrived at these numbers (Worldwide, not United States.):
    April 8. 15,000-25,000 deaths. May 6. 20,000-30,000 deaths
    These dates are four weeks and eight weeks, respectively, from the baseline date I used.
    Total worldwide cases by these dates could be in the 600,000 to 800,000 range.
    I would be less surprised if the actual numbers on these dates were lower and more surprised if they were higher.
    Since even a prediction based on data is speculative and could be quite wrong, I would completely understand someone having a different prediction based on the same data. Any participants here who disagree are welcome to contribute their own predictions for these same two dates so we can compare our predictions.
    Be safe.

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      Daniel, viral spread tends to be calculated using log scales, meaning the growth is exponential and not linear.

  3. Kay

    I’ll try again to get your perspective realizing this virus has a lot of unknowns. In addressing the resultant cytokine storm from this virus what substances could be used to mitigate this. For example, I am allergic to ibuprofen, naprosyn, aspirin, and past steroid use caused upper esophogeal reflux for which no acid reducer worked (had to have rehab for this sphincter and rebuild prostaglandins), medically what other anti inflammatories could an MD recommend other than Tylenol for fever reduction but that would not reduce inflammation. I guess what I really am asking is what is the prophylaxis if someone developes ARDS from this virus? What protocol could be used at home to prevent progression to ARDS? Any ideas of where this information could be found. For people like me it is very concerning.

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      There is no known prophylaxis, that’s something you need to discuss with your doctor.

  4. Pam Zekman

    Something fishy on the exchange today. IMAC Regeneration Centers (that preys on the elderly pocketbooks and insurance) just gave investors 679,000 shares recently, as the stock has been at 40-something cents for @30 days. Today, suddenly, stock went up 1000%. That’s right, 1000%. Stem Cell Clinic dabbling in insider trading?

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.

By submitting the form, you are agreeing that you read and consent to our Privacy Policy. We may also contact you via email, phone, and other electronic means to communicate information about our products and services. We do not sell, or share your information to third party vendors. Your submitted information is used only for the purposes of providing you with information about Regenexx.

Find a Regenexx Provider

Regenexx is a world-wide network of specially trained physicians providing the world's most advanced, research-driven, regenerative-medicine treatments in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

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

CONTACT US

9035 Wadsworth Pkwy #1000
Westminster, CO 80021
888-525-3005

FOLLOW US

Copyright © Regenexx 2020. 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.

Subscribe here!

For more coronavirus updates and hard facts by Dr. Centeno.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

LinkedIn
Email