It’s frustrating to see so much bad media coverage of celebrity trips to clinics to get supposed stem cell treatment of various kinds. Part of the concern here stems from ordinary people taking risks by following the example of the famous people. Good journalism should ask tough questions, talk to experts, and not yield an overall promotional result.
In today’s post I go through an awful news item on a Caribbean stem cell clinic.
A stem cell treatment?
Here we go. Kirk Cousins travels to Caribbean for stem cell treatment, Kare11. Note that this is a Minnesota TV news station.
What the celebs get is often called a “stem cell treatment” in the media like with this article.
What exactly is a stem cell treatment anyway?
Should we use the word “treatment” to describe the unproven stuff that is sold at most clinics? I don’t believe so. Treatment implies a known benefit when here there may be none. What is offered is typically not a scientifially validated treatment or therapy.
What’s the right word? “Intervention” may be accurate, but it’s clunky. Injection? Not all clinic offerings are injections but most are.
Cousins got the injection at a clinic in Antigua and Barbuda run by a doctor named Joseph John. One interesting element here is that he went there at the recommendation of an American stem cell clinic owner:
“Dr. Chad Prodromos, medical director and CEO of the Prodromos Stem Cell Institute in Chicago, recommended the treatment. “
This rings a bell because I’ve stumbled on the Prodromos clinic in Chicago in past years. I noted its diverse marketing claims. Its website talks about anti-aging and treating autism, memory loss, paralysis, CP, and more. I am skeptical that the stem cells offered at clinics can safely and effectively do those things. As is now the case for many firms, this one has a presence both in the U.S. and in the Caribbean.
So another strike against this media article is that its main expert source is someone who runs a stem cell clinic. There are no other opinions or perspectives given. That’s just bad journalism.
Why is Dr. Prodromos promoting a Caribbean stem cell clinic?
Vitro Biopharma as cell supplier
The article (and video it includes) goes on to discuss more of what Prodromos said:
“He says the cells are from Colorado-based tissue bank, Vitro Biopharma, and says they’re safe and FDA approved. However, he says anyone seeking to use them needs individualized FDA approval, and that this process involves expensive clinical trials.”
That supplier name may seem familiar to The Niche readers. I’ve written before about how Vitro Biopharma also supplies another Caribbean clinic DVC Stem Cell.
Also related to the quote, the clinical trials mentioned as needed in the US and as apparenlty being bypassed by clinics in the Caribbean, are required at a biomedical science level to figure out if something works and is safe.
Other issues with the article
This media piece has other problems.
For instance, it doesn’t ask any questions. The author also fails to mention potential risks of the ‘stem cell treatment’.
I wonder if Kirk Cousins gets free or discounted stem cells for his trips there being used in a promotional kind of way. The writer maybe should have asked. They seemed to have relied on the video and other material for the article rather than digging into things themselves.
The issue of celebs potentially getting discounts or free stem cells at clinics also came to mind recently when a famous surfer went to Tijuana for unproven stem cells and kept posting about it, apparently even after his buddy who went with him died after getting stem cells at the same place. It’s still unclear if the stem cells had a role in the death.
Overall, the Minnesota media piece promotes going to Caribbean clinics for unproven stem cells. It makes such visits seem like vacations to fun places. We should expect much more from the press on stem cells.
Finally, since Prodromos is quoted in this piece on Kirk Cousins’ trip, I took a fresh look at his stem cell clinic website. What are they offering these days?
Prodromos clinic stem cell types
The Prodromos website says it uses both allogeneic and autologous cells:
“We use both. Specifically, we use autologous stem cells from fat or occasionally bone marrow from the given patient. We also use allogeneic cultured umbilical cord cells.”
As to the cultured cord cells, where does the Chicago clinic get them? I am not aware of the FDA approving any culture umbilical cord stem cells from Vitro Biopharma.
Regardless of source, are the lab-grown cells used only at the clinic locations outside the U.S.? I ask because to my knowledge there are no FDA-approved therapies using lab-grown umbilical cord cells for the kinds of things this clinic is marketing.
You can see my list of FDA approved stem cell and other regenerative therapies including gene therapies.