We recently reviewed a stem cell candidate who had MRI’s showing a severely collapsed femoral head and avascular necrosis of the hip. This is a disease where the hip bone collapses. There is well done research that shows a stem cell approach can make a difference if you catch this disease early (before the bone collapses). Once the bone collapses, the success rate goes from about 80% of the patients not needing a hip replacement at 5-10 year follow-up to as low as 40%. We placed this patient in the POOR-FAIR category for our treatment, which would involve placement of the cells into the damaged bone. She then called an out of country clinic who told her that they could help by placing placental stem cells under her skin. There was no candidacy discussion, just if you had the ability to pay, you’re a good candidate. As I have discussed in earlier posts, this is a big problem, where stem cell clinics are failing to reasonably prospectively grade patients using the guidelines put forth by ICMS. In addition, the adult stem cells being used have been shown in the research to end up in the lungs if you inject them IV, so there is no telling where they would end up if you injected them subcutaneous (under the skin). There also isn’t even a credible animal model that would show how you could rebuild the femur even if some of them made it to this area (which is highly doubful). If this clinic were injecting fetal stem cells directly to the area of diseased bone, while there would be serious risks, at least the method would have some credibility of perhaps reducing the likelihood of further collapse
The moral of the story? ICMS is working hard to categorize out of country stem cell clinics. While some seem to be doing some very credible work, others are regrettably not doing credible work. There are really sick people who have reported very good things from outside of the US stem cell care, so rather than throw the baby out with the bath water, what we need is to educate consumers on what sounds reasonable and what sounds like snake oil.