Searching the news for stories on stem cell treatments can be very disheartening to clinicians in the regenerative medicine field. Story after story describes stem cell therapy as unproven, unregulated, etc. Reading such stories leaves clinicians wondering if journalists have actually done their homework.
The Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) is a Salt Lake City organization that trains doctors in the proper use of regenerative medicine treatments for aesthetic and musculoskeletal applications. They say that stem cell therapy is anything but unproven. They point to organizations like the Roswell clinic in Buffalo as evidence.
When you get past all of the rhetoric and actually examine what is being done with stem cells these days, it becomes very apparent that journalists need to be more careful with the ‘unproven’ label. Throwing around such terms without regard to their influence can dissuade people from seeking cell therapies they would benefit from.
The Work at Roswell
The Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of the leading facilities in the U.S. for treating cancer. Many of the cancer breakthroughs medical science has enjoyed over the years have either originated at Roswell or been studied there. If there is any place on the eastern seaboard you would want to be treated for certain types of cancers, it is Roswell.
The Center recently held its annual transplant and cellular therapy reunion for patients whose lives have been transformed by Roswell treatments. One of the attendees was a 78-year-old nun and former St. Bonaventure University president who would probably no longer be with us had she not gone to Roswell.
Sister Margaret Carney was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer back in 2016. She underwent a stem cell treatment that involved extracting her own stem cells, treating them in the lab, and then injecting them back into her body to fight the cancer cells. Needless to say the procedure worked. Sister Margaret is still among the living because of a Roswell stem cell treatment proven to work.
Use Words More Wisely
When you read stories like Sister Margaret’s, your faith in the potential of stem cell therapy is renewed. Thankfully, she isn’t the only beneficiary of such wonderful and exciting therapies. Anyone who has undergone a bone marrow transplant from leukemia has benefited as well. A bone marrow transplant is essentially a stem cell transplant.
Knowing what we know about successful stem cell therapies, it might be wise for those who write or talk about regenerative medicine to use their words more wisely. While it is true that the efficacy of stem cell therapy as a treatment for osteoarthritis has not been proven with the same volume of clinical data in support of bone marrow transplants, there is a better way to describe the treatments than simply saying they are unproven and unregulated.
For starters, the stem cell procedures they teach at the ARMI are regulated by the FDA. Physicians must follow all rules and regulations for maintaining hygienic procedures. They must ensure that the stem cell material is processed according to existing FDA guidelines.
In terms of being unproven, it’s only a matter of clinical versus anecdotal evidence. Every patient who successfully undergoes stem cell treatment for something like osteoarthritis is yet another patient proving the procedure’s efficacy.
There are proper ways to report on stem cell therapies without throwing out such broad terms as ‘unproven’ and ‘unregulated’. Journalistic integrity demands that the news media be a bit more responsible in the words they use. Otherwise, they are needlessly misleading people who could benefit from stem cell therapy.