Welcome to Impact Factor, your weekly dose of commentary on a new medical study. I’m Dr F. Perry Wilson.
I want to start with a compelling narrative being told to patients across the country. It goes like this: We physicians are going to use cutting-edge science to unlock the healing potential of your own cells to treat your chronic medical conditions. Sounds amazing, right? And it can all be yours for just about $5000 per treatment.
I’m talking about stem cell therapy. Stem cells are cells with the potential to differentiate into a variety of other cells or tissues. And to date, the FDA has approved their use in a number of hematologic malignancies and hematologic genetic conditions—and that’s it.
Stem cells are not FDA-approved for joint pain, cataracts , depression , autism , dementia, or heart disease, and yet hundreds of stem cell clinics around the country are offering them for these very conditions, as shown in this study appearing in Stem Cell Reports, which documented the activities of 169 stem cell businesses in the United States.