According to a story from Medical Xpress, a team of researchers from the American Association of Ophthalmology recently released a study that highlights the dangers of unapproved stem cell therapy. The scientists found that these unapproved treatments caused more harm to patients than previously recognized. The study looked at cases involving 18 patients who had received stem cell therapy for their eye disease.
Unapproved Treatments Have Hidden Dangers
All of these patients had been reported as experiencing beneficial outcomes or simply no improvement, but the truth is unfortunately worse than that. Seven of the patients sustained severe, irreversible harm after undergoing these therapies. Unfortunately, it is clear that patients who are hoping to seek treatment need to be adept at researching different options and remaining vigilant for potential red flags that could indicate that a treatment provider is not reputable.
Stem cell therapy has, in recent years, become something of a flavor-of-the-month health treatment in certain respects. Research about the potential of stem cell therapies has occasionally made headlines in the past few years that have served to overstate its uses in the eyes of the general public. Unfortunately, to the average person, stem cell therapy may sound like an effective and technologically advanced method of treatment. While approved stem cell therapies and stem cell transplants can play a significant role in treating serious diseases, they are far from a cure all.
Clinics That Prey on the Desperate
There has been a recent proliferation of clinics popping up throughout the US that exclusively offer stem cell therapy. These clinics claim that stem cell therapy can be an effective treatment for a dizzying array of ailments and diseases, such as autism, multiple sclerosis, age-related macular degeneration, Parkinson’s disease, and many more. Recently, the FDA has begun seeking out these clinics and shutting them down after a case where three women were blinded after receiving stem cell therapy at a clinic in Florida.
How to Stay Safe
So how can rare disease patients protect themselves from potentially receiving permanent harm? There are a couple of warning signs that should tell patients to stay away. Firstly, patients should steer away from studies that require a fee in order to participate. Most serious clinical trials do not require payment, although some smaller scale ones may as for a modest copay. Patients should also avoid seeking treatment at any facility that exclusively offers stem cell therapy. These clinics are little more than snake oil salesmen, and any respectable treatment center will offer a variety of different approaches, not just stem cells.