Wanted both dead & alive: amniotic stem cell clinics sell zombie cells?

Some amniotic stem cell clinics seem to be trying to have their cake and eat it too.

Generally the amniotic stem cell clinics market their products as “stem cells” and the implication is that living stem cells are used to effectively treat many medical conditions. I have not seen it mentioned that what some of the clinics, perhaps most of them, inject into patients is really a “dead” extract of amniotic membranes instead. Not living cells. Zombie

Are the clinics injecting amniotic stem cells or just a mishmash of dead “stuff” from what were once cells? For any given clinic selling amniotic stem cells, who knows if what they are injecting is alive or dead.

If the clinics are actually injecting extracts, these would be cheaper and potentially easier on FDA compliance. But those clinics probably don’t want to tell patients that reality so that the clinics can continue to charge an arm and a leg via stem cell hype, in some cases potentially falsely marketing what they do as involving real live cells.

In this way perhaps many of the clinics in essence try to get the best of both worlds financially via the “zombie state” of their amniotic products, viewed as both alive (to patients) and dead (in reality and to regulators, should them come knocking) depending on the perspective.

Some clinics pitching amniotics may be transplanting living cells. While living amniotic stem cells, even if they are not true stem cells, could have some beneficial properties and are worth testing in controlled FDA-approved, clinical trials, such cells should not be sold to patients without FDA approval that they are safe and effective.

Amniotic extracts are in my view much less likely to be beneficial and are probably useless in most cases. They may or may not contain some growth factors or other “stuff”, but depending on many factors (storage conditions, amniotic harvest protocol, age, etc.) they could even do harm.

In either case, another big question follows: where is this amniotic material coming from? Are hospitals selling it? Do they have consent from the new moms to do so? Is broad research consent from a new mom sufficient for the hospital to then sell the amniotic/placental material at a profit to a for-profit clinic? If living cells are involved, how are they frozen and protected from contamination? Since these “treatments” are inherently allogeneic (non-self), how are patients protected from possible immune problems?

Many questions remain unanswered about amniotic stem cell clinics even as their numbers seem to be increasing across the country.

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