The FDA has made it clear they plan to go after America’s stem cell clinics. Meanwhile, various medical groups and media outlets have made it their mission to discredit stem cell therapy and other regenerative medicine procedures at every turn. So what are clinicians to do? They can help themselves a great deal by voluntarily adopting some standards of care.
Regenerative medicine’s newness and lack of regulatory necessity have created an environment in which few standards exist for administering stem cell injections. And by the way, what we are referring to here are stem cell injections for the purposes of treating osteoarthritis, injuries to tendons and ligaments, and so forth. As far as standards are concerned, now is the time to start developing them.
A set of standards would very likely improve stem cell efficacy. They would also take some of the heat off the industry. As standardized care improves outcomes, the critics of stem cell therapy would have less to complain about. To that end, here are three standards that could improve both outcomes and the reputation of regenerative medicine simultaneously:
1. Using Umbilical Cord Cells
A big drawback of autologous stem cell material – that is, material donated by the patient being treated – is that it is difficult to get large quantities of stem cells as a person ages. Research suggests that a better source of stem cells is umbilical cord blood. By using this resource whenever possible, doctors would have the ability to get as many stem cells as needed to provide a safe and effective treatment with as few injections is possible.
2. Utilizing Imaging Equipment
As research into stem cell therapy grows, it is becoming more apparent that the choice of injection sites is critical to efficacy. It is not enough for doctors to inject stem cell material in the general area of the site of injury or disease. Achieving the best outcome means targeting stem cell material to the right locations. The best way to do this is to utilize imaging equipment to determine injection sites.
The American Regenerative Medicine Institute, a Utah company that trains doctors in the use of stem cell and PRP injections, explains that more accurate placement of stem cell material makes for better outcomes. It is as simple as that. Adopting a standard of always using medical imaging to choose injection sites would go a long way toward improving the current environment.
3. Make No Promises
Critics of stem cell therapy justifiably complain of doctors and clinics making unfounded promises. Such promises are made all the time. That needs to stop. No medical treatment, no matter how long it has been around, works flawlessly 100% of the time. Doctors are trained during the earliest years of their education to never make promises. And yet, there are doctors and clinics who do just that.
Promising patients that injections will work only opens the door to doubts when they do not. Passing off stem cell therapy as a cure-all for every illness under the sun is akin to making promises that doctors know they cannot keep. This sort of marketing needs to go away. Doctors and clinics need to adopt a standard of marketing that presents stem cell therapy in a realistic light.
Stem cell therapy holds a lot of promise for a lot of medical conditions. Doctors are already using it successfully to treat things like osteoarthritis and sports injuries. We need to continue promoting that, but we need to adopt some standards of care along the way. Without standards, there will be no silencing the critics.