July 6, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

8 simple reasons not to get unproven stem cell treatments: #3, exclusion from future clinical trials

stem cell treatments
Potential stem cell treatments.

What’s the big deal about unproven stem cell treatments, patients often ask me.

Why should patients avoid these?

Because paradoxically such treatments, intended to cure disease, can have devastating negative consequences for your health.

I’m doing an eight-part series, “Eight simple reasons not to get a stem cell treatment”. The first two blog posts were on the risk to lose one’s insurance coverage for specific treatment-related side effects such as sepsis and the general utter lack of patient follow up by these clinics and doctors.

Today’s post is the third simple reason and that is by getting an unlicensed stem cell treatment patients are almost guaranteeing themselves to be excluded from participation in a clinical trial in the future. By receiving an unlicensed treatment, without realizing it most of the time I believe, patients are in essence putting a big black check mark on any future clinical trial participation pre-screening form excluding themselves. Why? Because by their nature unlicensed stem cell treatments are nebulous and could confound a given patient’s results in a future trial.

This could be disastrous. Let’s take a hypothetical patient who has a back injury and receives an unlicensed stem cell treatment consisting of an injection of stem cells (or more likely multiple injections). A few years later an FDA-approved clinical trial begins for treating back injury using stem cells and this trial seems very promising based on extensive, encouraging pre-clinical animal model data. Our patient would not be able to participate in this trial and as a result may have in essence harmed themselves and been harmed by the doctor doing the unlicensed stem cell therapy by leading to their exclusion from the future clinical trial.

When I’ve had discussions with patients who advocate unlicensed stem cell treatments they say, “who will know?” and “what would simply stop me from lying?”

I suppose this is true, but in that case you are actually harming science, medicine, and possibly other patients because your previous unlicensed treatment may screw up the clinical trial.

Stay tuned for five more simple reasons.

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