One of the most pervasive scams sweeping the nation today involves “amniotic stem-cell therapy.” Aggressive entrepreneurs are selling doctors what they claim are frozen vials of amniotic stem cells. In actuality, the vials contain dead tissue.
Amniotic fluid comes from a baby’s birth sac and does contain a small number of stem cells. Once that fluid is saved for a tissue bank, collected, processed, preserved, frozen, shipped, and shock-thawed by a doctor, there are no viable cells left, let alone any stem cells. Lab tests have confirmed this time and time again. Most of the companies selling these vials source their tissue from three or four main national tissue banks, so it’s not surprising that products from many different companies show the same lack of viability. Nobody is really sure whether this stuff might help patients, but it’s very clear that calling it “amniotic stem cells” is inaccurate. It’s also clear that if doctors were aware that the vials contained dead tissue, they wouldn’t pay big bucks for a tiny vial of the stuff.
Following are some aggressive and false sales language being used to pitch this materials to doctors:
“…cutting edge placental tissue matrix (amniotic stem cell)”
No evidence exists that any of these placental tissues being sold have any viable amniotic stem cells.
“…while helping their patients suffering from joint, neck and back pain/stiffness/mobility”
No data has been published on the dead placental tissues being sold. Searching the US National Library of Medicine under the general term “placental tissue joint” brings up one small study of 10 patients who were tracked for only a month. These were largely patients with tendon injuries of the foot and ankle who reported better pain scores. Given that platelet-rich plasma is much cheaper and has been shown in large randomized controlled trials to be effective in treating tendon problems, one has to wonder why a doctor would chose a much more expensive “amniotic stem-cell” treatment with limited data.
“The stem-cell revolution has arrived and is changing the face of medicine forever.”
Yes it has, but treating a patient with frozen dead tissue is not legitimate stem-cell therapy.
“Amniotic Fluid Stem Cells Pros and Cons: More Scams” first appeared as a post on the Regenexx blog.