Swedish Medical Center in Seattle is now marketing regenerative medicine therapies including some things that in my view are not really scientifically proven to work. This is part of a bigger trend where more legit medical centers have begun selling regenerative medicine “treatments” that are still being developed. Sometimes they even engage in questionable marketing of this stuff too. The latest entry here is unbelievable in some ways.
In the above segment sponsored by Swedish on a show called New Day Northwest on King 5 TV in Seattle, Swedish provider Adam Pourcho, D.O. touts platelet rich plasma (PRP) and bone marrow stem cells as great options for those suffering orthopedic injuries. Here is a partial text version of the TV video segment.
While there is a lot of enthusiasm amongst some groups of physicians around the world about PRP, rigorous clinical trial results have varied, with some reporting better results with PRP versus standard care (new study here), but others (e.g. here) showed no significant benefit from PRP above standard care. So PRP could have some benefits in the orthopedics arena, but it’s not some kind of magic bullet.
Still, at this level this TV segment is not that surprising a development even if it seems a bit concerning. However, in my opinion some specifics of Pourcho’s statements on this sponsored TV show seem inaccurate and some statements seem mindboggling, at least to me. For instance, we have these claims:
- Platelets are the body’s natural healing particles.
- If you were to get a cut on your hands, blood would go to the area and bring with it the platelets those platelets would get there and release growth factors, hundreds of them.
- Those growth factors (released by the platelets) are the programming cells for your brain.
- Those “growth factors” give signals to your brain. They identify injured tissue like muscle, tendons, or ligaments.
- The growth factors tell the brain “please heal it” (meaning the injury) and what tissue is injured “so you don’t get eyeball in your hand.”
- Your platelets tell your brain what kind of stem cells to send to the area.
He appears to be claiming that the human body is able to heal local tissue injuries with the right, location-appropriate cells because platelets communicate with your brain via growth factors to tell the brain what kind of stem cells to then send to the particular damaged area.
This is how the human physiology of injury response works? Not that I know of. Furthermore, how does this explain how injections of PRP produced from systemically isolated blood help specific tissue injuries?
How would your brain send different kinds of stem cells to different tissues? And what happened to the established roles of local populations of stem and precursor cells already in the affected tissues? I have many other questions too.
Dr. Pourcho is extremely upbeat. He says he has gotten these treatments himself. One of his patients also reported feeling better on the show. New Day NW host Margaret Larson seems super excited.
Overall to me this sponsored TV segment (Swedish paid?) almost had the feel of an unproven stem cell clinic infomercial.
I hope we don’t see more of these, but I bet we will.