In today’s post, I reviewed a stem cell clinic firm called Docere Clinics.
In my opinion, there are some concerning issues here and reasons for caution. One type of procedure at Docere is particularly surprising and raises risks in my view.
What is Docere Clinics? | What kind of stem cells does Docere use? | What they claim to treat | Docere Clinics cost | Are the cells FDA compliant? | Total Body Procedures | Ben Greenfield | Docere Clinics Review | References
Quick Docere Clinics review: Overall, in my view, Docere Clinics does not have robust clinical science to back up the efficacy or safety of much of its offerings. That’s why I call the offerings “unproven.” Some of the marketed procedures are unusual in the extent of injections over much of the body, which I believe increases risks. They also charge relatively high prices. Overall, these issues raise substantial concerns in my view as a stem cell biologist.
If you are interested you can see my hub page with all of my stem cell clinic reviews and fact-checks.
What is Docere Clinics run by Harry Adelson?
Docere Clinics is a Utah stem cell clinic firm. It markets cell injections for a variety of health conditions. You can see an example of marketing material above, which raises several questions including whether naturopaths are physicians.
I only see one clinic location on the web so I don’t know if the plural “clinics” part of the name refers also to another clinic location that I didn’t see or if it is a goal to have multiple locations.
Naturopath Harry Adelson owns and runs the firm. A physician named Amy Killen, M.D. also treats patients at the clinic. There is an anesthesiologist involved too for some procedures.
Note that I emailed Harry Adelson with some of my questions related to this post but got no reply. If I do hear back, I’ll either update this post or do a follow-up. I also sent a message to the firm on their website asking to communicate with him but again got no answer.
The Docere physician Amy Killen seems like a well-trained doctor. If you want to learn more about what she does and her philosophy as a physician, one source of information is her YouTube channel. She discusses longevity quite a bit. There’s a particularly striking video with self-injection of PRP in her face. From her LinkedIn page:
“In her clinical practice, Dr Killen and her colleague, Dr Harry Adelson, pioneered the Full Body Stem Cell Makeover, one of the most innovative regenerative procedures currently available. In her portion of the procedure, Dr Killen combines stem cell injections with light, sound and other energy-based therapies to give patients unparalleled synergistic regenerative effects for skin, hair and sexual systems.”
Does Dr. Killen directly oversee all the stem cell injection procedures at Docere? It doesn’t seem that way from the firm’s videos.
What stem cells are used at Docere Clinics?
According to their website, Docere Clinics sells autologous interventions based on bone marrow, fat, and blood. PRP is used for some applications too.
In addition, the clinic reports using allogeneic umbilical cord cells. What’s the source of these donor cells? From their website, “We source cells and growth factors from New Life Regenerative Medicine, a true leader in the field.” I wasn’t able to find out much about this cell manufacturer or their scientists.
Docere has a section on autologous cells that I found notable (emphasis mine):
“Blood from one’s own body contains Very Small Embryonic Stem Cells (VSELs), newly discovered cells that possess intriguing properties. While they are completely inactive and “hibernating” when found in normal whole blood or platelet rich plasma, they can be photobiomodulated (zapped with a very specific laser) in order to morph them into an activated form.”
Do VSELs actually exist naturally? I don’t believe so and many in the stem cell field agree with me on that. There are a few very strong believers in VSELs though. One concern I have about VSELs is that the literature on them has many issues.
The diseases and conditions Docere Clinics markets
If you check out the Docere Clinics website, under “services” they list a few categories. The first is “cell therapy”. It seems like a major emphasis there is a variety of orthopedic conditions. They also include this disclaimer (emphasis theirs), “UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE do we ever treat any systemic disease, genetic disorder, autism, spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury.”
I believe it’s good that they don’t try to treat such conditions, but I do have concerns about other things they market.
For example, they list a “full-body” or “total-body” stem cell makeover. I don’t know of any robust evidence that stem cells can makeover one’s whole body. What does makeover even mean here? Make younger and healthier? More on the full-body procedure below.
Finally, Docere Clinic also does sexual health and cosmetic procedures.
Docere Clinics cost
Docere is more expensive than most other clinics in the U.S. that I’ve seen.
From the Docere website,
“Treatments start at $25,000 and increase from there, depending upon the complexity of the treatment. Our top end treatments come in around $100,000 and the average is between $40,000 and $65,000.”
If you get several average-cost treatments at Docere it could run to a few hundred thousand in total. You can see my post on 2023 stem cell therapy cost for comparison. Most people in the U.S. report paying $20,000 or less and many people pay between $2,500-$5,000 for stem cells.
Adelson and Killen talk about a program to offer stem cell injections at a much lower cost in some cases. I’m not clear on how that works and who is eligible. What percent of Docere procedures are done at this discounted fee?
Do FDA regulations pertain?
Is FDA oversight relevant here? For me, the allogeneic umbilical cord-related offerings come to mind in particular.
More broadly, the FDA has been sending a steady stream of letters to perinatal cell supplier firms in the last few years. These letters often begin by saying that the materials, usually related to umbilical cells, are unapproved drugs. Note that I’m not aware of any action by the FDA related to Docere (or supplier New Life Regenerative Medicine) and only the agency makes determinations on what is compliant or not.
What does Docere itself say about FDA oversight or compliance?
I don’t see it mentioned on the website. There is a section of the FAQ page that addresses state-level oversight. Maybe there is something on their website on FDA oversight pertaining to their offerings but I just didn’t find it. This was one of the things I asked Adelson by email and mentioned in my message to the firm on their website.
The extent of the injections in some cases at Docere is concerning to me so let’s return to the full-body approach. Here’s a description on their site (emphasis mine):
“Two-Hands“: While the patient is comfortably sedated by our anesthesiologist, bone marrow, fat, and blood are harvested and prepared, and then every major musculoskeletal structure is injected by Dr. Adelson. Namely, the entire length of the spine from the base of the skull to the tailbone at every level on both sides as well as all the major peripheral joints (shoulders, elbows, wrists, thumbs, hips, knees, ankles, and great toes).
For people who do not want to use their own cells (autologous), they have the option of receiving the exact same injections using cells from umbilical cord (allogenic).”
Are we talking about dozens of injections at one visit? What are the risks? Are any of the different types of biologics combined into what might be a combo drug product, or are the separate materials injected individually?
With all these injections, what if you are putting stem cells where they aren’t even needed? I don’t believe stem cells are always needed and always necessarily beneficial. Wouldn’t it be rare for a person to have every major joint and musculoskeletal structure need an intervention like stem cells? What are the risks?
Then Docere has their “Four-Hands” regimen, which seems even more intensive to me:
“In addition to the musculoskeletal injections described above, people then have the option of having Amy Killen, M.D. perform all her injections for cosmetic/sexual enhancement (skin of face/neck/hands/scalp, plus vagina/penis) at the same time. The autologous version uses cells from the patients’ own bone marrow, fat, and blood.
Same as above, the “Four-Hands” can be done entirely with umbilical cord cells, which dramatically decreases recovery time and therefore is the best choice for those who cannot afford much down time.”
Also, pertaining to FDA oversight, is all of this homologous use?
As to the PRP injections, such procedures and products have generally not been viewed as requiring FDA drug-level approval. However, from what I’ve seen, sexual health procedures using PRP are not widely accepted as a standard of care. For example, here’s one article that is skeptical of PRP for ED.
I also thought it was interesting to see that health influencer Ben Greenfield has reportedly gotten three of these full-body makeovers at Docere. You can watch the video above, but note that it has some moderately intense surgical scenes.
Readers of The Niche might remember that Ben Greenfield previously self-reported injecting his penis with stem cells from US Stem Cell Clinic.
I wonder if Ben Greenfield got the Docere procedures for free or at a discount rate as a marketing effort.
Overall Docere Clinics Review
For me, one of the key questions is, “what’s the science behind the Docere Clinic offerings?”
I didn’t find any trial listings from this group on Clinicaltrials.gov. Also, I only found one paper by a Harry Adelson on PubMed and it seems unrelated to what he’s doing with stem cells. It’s possible I missed some other articles on there.
The Docere website has a few articles that he wrote for a naturopath publication but they don’t seem, in my view, to concretely show a benefit of the cellular therapies that are offered. These publications do not appear to be indexed on PubMed.
I believe there is a concerning lack of published, rigorous clinical trial data to support Docere Clinic offerings as safe and effective. I have a lot of other questions too.
Overall, I see multiple reasons for caution here and, in my opinion, the whole body-type of procedure is particularly concerning.
References and notes
- While orthobiologics clinic doctor Chris Centeno and I don’t see eye-to-eye on many things, he has been confronting some stem cell practitioners for years and he has an interesting piece on Harry Adelson and Docere Clinics. Docere seems to view Centeno as a competitor who is being negative about them.
- What’s scarier than dubious stem cell clinics? A naturopathic stem cell clinic!, Respectful Insolence.
- Harry Adelson paper on PubMed. It’s possible he has other articles in journals included on PubMed but I didn’t find them. I did try searching in a number of ways including HJ Adelson.
- Note that I am not a physician. This review is my opinion as a cell biologist and public educator who has also spent more than a dozen years researching stem cell clinics and more than 20 years studying stem cells.