October 27, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Will Speedy A4M Stem Cell Course for Docs Put Patients at Risk?

They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and more specifically I say that a little stem cell training for MDs, such as from A4M, can potentially be a dangerous problem too.

A4M logo
A4M logo

I’ve been very concerned about self-proclaimed “stem cell training courses” for MDs.

These kinds of courses have claimed that over as short as a weekend (perhaps with golf) they fully prepare physicians to do stem cell interventions on patients. Such stem cell-related procedures can yield big profits for physicians, but what about the best interest of patients? Are the physicians also putting their practices at risk as well?

Now I see that the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) has pushed the stem cell quick clinical training model to an extreme with a new 1-day stem cell training course. 

In fact in just 10 hours A4M claims its course will make doctors qualified to start treating patients right away.

This claim is explicitly stated in the course description (emphasis mine):

“Learn how to successfully incorporate and market stem cell treatments into your practice. The latest in stem cell theory and clinical trial research for all aspects of Regenerative Medicine, including embryonic, bone marrow-derived, adipose-derived, and platelet rich plasma will be covered. Attendees will leave the clinical training course with the skill and knowledge to treat patients immediately upon returning to their offices.

It’s an astonishing claim. Note that they also emphasize marketing stem cell treatments to patients too.

Is a 10-hour course all any MD really needs to start doing stem cell transplants on patients in a safe and effective manner?

I don’t think so. At least not in a responsible, careful manner. That particular claim for this course is very troubling.

What’s next I wonder? A 1-hour online course enabling doctors to supposedly immediately start treating patients with stem cells?

Who are the people involved in running this A4M course? The faculty listed for this course are the following: Sharon McQuillan MD, David Audley MS, Arnold Caplan PhD, Rafael Gonzalez PhD, Augusto Brazzini MD, Mark Holterman MD PhD, Adeeb Al-Zoubi MD PhD, Lora Brown MD, Howard Walpole MD, Neil Riordan PhD, and Elliott Lander MD PhD.

Even if the faculty are the top stem cell experts in the entire world, in just 10 hours they could not adequately prepare newbie stem cell docs to immediately go treat patients safely.

Another concern is that the course spans a host of conditions as well and there is little if any evidence that stem cells are safe and effective today for these diseases: Parkinson’s Disease, Diabetes, Musculoskeletal Repair and Regeneration, Heart Disease, Autoimmune diseases, and erectile dysfunction.

The bottom line is that this A4M course seems to me to be all about quickly enabling doctors who are newbies to the stem cell world to make money by doing stem cell interventions. I suppose the course may also make A4M itself money too via course registration fees.

What we really need instead are comprehensive physician training programs of the kind I proposed in 2013 that span a year and thoroughly cover all the keys issues: technologies, bioethics, consent, patient rights, risks, regulatory complexities, etc.

Thorough physician training is in the best interests of the field, physicians, and patients.

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