Stem Cell Therapy: Hope or Hoax? - New York News

Stem Cell Therapy: Hope or Hoax?

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An Internet search on stem cell therapy will bring up 44 million hits.  You'll find centers all over the world offering stem cells to treat everything from hair loss to Alzheimer's.  In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration warns consumers to proceed with caution.  Initial research shows, stem cell therapy has great potential but right now, there is only one FDA approved stem cell derived product.

There are now hundreds of clinical trials on going. Here in Los Angeles, Dr Mark Berman is investigating the value of taking a patient's fat, processing it to concentrate the stem cells then re-injecting back into the patient. He has treated people with vision problems, arthritic knees and hips and treated those with autism, asthma even Parkinson's.

He hasn't published outcomes yet, but he handpicks his patients and turns away those where he believes the therapy won't help and he insists all his stem cell patients have seen improvement, even if incremental. 

Because there have been few completed and vetted clinical stem cell therapy trials, the FDA is joined by adult stem cell research director Dr. Alex Wong of the Keck Institute of Medicine of USC who worries that manipulating stem cells make them dangerous, maybe even turning  them into cancer cells. Wong appreciates the potential and promise of stem cells, but wants longer trials before he offers stem cell therapy to his patients. Since health insurance doesn't cover stem cell therapy, before you buy in ask some questions.

  • Is the doctor conducting a clinical trial overseen by an International Review Board or the FDA?
  • Has the doctor published results of the clinical trial?
  • What is the success rate?
  • Are the cells from my fat sent to a lab for processing or kept in house?  
  • If sent to a lab, is it up to FDA standards?
  • What is the fee per treatment and is pricing on a sliding scale based on income?
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