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Critical Questions When Evaluating Stem Cell Therapies

Stem cell therapies continue to grow at an exponential rate.  It seems  like every disease imaginable has an advertised cure. Unfortunately it is difficult for patients and physicians alike to evaluate these therapies.  ICMS ( International Cellular Medicine Society) has made the task easier by providing a number of different tools:  stem cell glossary, off shore stem cell report card and patient voices.

Dr. Centeno has provided a series of questions to assist in vetting stem cell therapies:

1)  What does the clinic treat? Ideally a clinic should have a concentrated focus on a small number of diseases.  Beware of clinics that treat everything from Parkinson’s to knee arthritis.

2) Where are the stem cells obtained?  Are they from the same patient(autologous) or from allogenic source?

3) What type of stem cells are used?  Embryonic, fetal, CD34+ hematopoietic  or mesenchymal stem cells.  In cellular therapy, cell type is CRITICAL.

4)  How are the cells processed? Simple centrifuge, pre-conditioned or culture expanded?  Recognize that culture expansion is the Gold standard for stem cell therapy.

5) How are the cells delivered?  Intravenous (IV), into the spinal fluid, or target specific.  The IV route while attractive is compromised by the fact that many of the cells are trapped in the lungs (pulmonary first pass effect).