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BBC Stem Cell Therapy “First”? Not so much…

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Headlines this a.m. “Stem cell therapy ‘first’ in trial on arthritic knees” on the BBC wire sounds familiar.  The study seems to be ACI or Autologous Cartilage Implantation surgery where some knee arthritis patients are getting cartilage cells and some cartilage cells mixed with stem cells.  While this may be a first in Great Britan, it’s not close to a worldwide first as a similar study comparing ACI knee surgery to the same surgery performed with cultured stem cells was just published out of Asia a few weeks ago (one that’s long since completed, not planned).  This highlights a huge issue.  Europe and the U.S. are woefully behind Asia when it comes to stem cell therapy.  The reason is the excessively restrictive regulations in the U.S. and Europe that treat the patient’s own stem cells the same as mass produced drugs. In Asia, for the most part, autologous stem cells are treated as body parts to be re-implanted under the practice of medicine.  So while researchers in the U.K. are pretending that what they’re doing is a worldwide first, nearly the same study was done and completed years ago in Asia.  If U.S. and European regulators don’t stop putting the brakes on autologous stem cell therapy by treating it the same as the production of a new antihypertensive or antibiotic, we will soon wake up to an Asia that is far ahead in all aspects of real world stem cell treatment.  I think they say “konnichiha” in Japanese…I better get practicing…

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