Stem cell clinics are spreading like wild-fire across the U.S.
A few months back the Sacramento area got a new stem cell clinic selling amniotic stem cell therapies for a variety of ills including most prominently arthritis and pain. This clinic is called Nervana Stem Cell Center.
I first noticed it via a huge ad in our local paper, The SacBee.
More recently, Nervana has advertised again in full-page spreads in the SacBee, but going by a different name: Lee Medical Group.
Yesterday, I saw another one of these ads for Lee Medical Group/Nervana (at left).
The SacBee must be collecting huge amounts of money for these ads, but should they even be running them? In my view, this stem cell clinic is selling unproven stem cell-based hope that could put patients at a variety of risks without published scientific data to back up that it works.
The clinic ads are making specific medical and regulatory claims too that seem dubious to me. For instance, if you look at the image at right of a specific part of the ad it says, “no known side effects”. Of course any treatment could have side effects and that includes something as simple as aspirin. Stem cell therapies are complicated and can have side effects that are serious.
It’s hard to even find out who the doctors are at this clinic even by calling them, looking at the ads, or going to their website. It seems most likely that the physicians are Drs. Tushar Goradia and Clarence Lee, but I’m not 100% sure. If this is not correct, I hope that Nervana will let me know and fill the community in on what is going on at the clinic in terms of the practitioners there. For instance, I have been trying to find out what experience and training these doctors have with stem cells.
Whoever heard of a medical clinic that won’t tell you who its doctors are?
Also, I have other questions. Is their amniotic stem cell therapy based on living cells or some extract?
I’m guessing it is the latter, but the ads seem to imply the former. In either case, what is the source of this amniotic material?
Their most recent ad also claims that the FDA is OK with their treatments, but is that right? In part it would depend on that question as to whether they are using living cells, the source of the cells, the question of homologous use (e.g. are amniotic stem cells similar enough to joint tissue to be considered not a drug requiring preapproval from the FDA before use), and much more.
It seems like at this point we have tons of questions about this stem cell clinic in the Northern California area and our community, but few answers.
An important additional question at another level is whether the SacBee should even be running these ads given this context and so many unknowns about this business. I’m trying to ask our local paper about this, but so far haven’t gotten very far.