Across the United States amniotic tissue products are being used and sold as “STEM CELLS”. Several companies produce injectable amniotic products and many healthcare offices use these products with advertising suggesting they contain many millions of Stem Cells able to remedy most any problem. In these clinics patients come in for treatment, the amniotic product is thawed and injected, and hopefully the touted treatment will solve the patient’s particular issue. However there have been questions in both the research community at large and in the clinical field of regenerative medicine as to whether these products actually contain living stem cells.
ARE THERE REALLY STEM CELLS IN AMNIOTIC PRODUCTS?
Researchers have known for some time that amniotic fluid in living humans does contain stem cells and growth factors. The worry has been that through processing, including freezing of the samples, these cells may be damaged. Dr. Alberto Panera and several of his colleagues at the University of California Davis published a paper in the American Journal of Sports Medicine evaluating three of these products to determine their cellular composition.
Dr. Panera and his group approached seven companies that produce amniotic products. These companies were invited to participate and submit samples to be tested, but only three did so. Those samples were analyzed for the presence of stem cells, and growth factors and these products were compared to unprocessed amniotic fluid and two separate samples of mesenchymal stem cells derived from human bone marrow aspirates.
Dr. Panera and his associates were unable to identify stem cells in the commercial amniotic products tested. Mesenchymal stem cells WERE cultured from bone marrow aspirates.
Despite the lack of living stem cells in the amniotic samples, there were growth factors identified in all specimens.
This study does not necessarily suggest that amniotic products are unhelpful. In fact many patients seem to have had some promising results from the use of these products and certainly the presence of growth factors suggest these products may still be a promising tool in the treatment of spine and joint disease. However, it seems clear that if stem cells are the tool you are looking for, bone marrow concentrate (BMC) is the better option in cases where that is possible. Certainly in cases where patients have brittle bones, or other reasons why BMC is not a great choice, perhaps amniotic products are still a reasonable option.
At Southcoast Regenerative Medicine we use bone marrow concentrate in the treatment of spine and joint disease in most cases. We believe this is typically the best source for living, viable stem cells, and is also a rich source for growth factors. We also believe patients will get a better response from BMC than from purchased, frozen amniotic products. Patients should consider this data when choosing their stem cell clinic.
In addition to the article above, there is now a podcast entitled BAD BATCH. This podcast tells the story of a bad batch of cells, which the FDA has concluded was contaminated and then distributed to several clinics, with many of the patients of those clinics suffering serious illness. A sample was analyzed and the analysis found no living stem cells.
This suggests that if patients choose to obtain stem cell treatments from the clinics that purchase these cells, those patients have two worries
- are there any living cells in these specimens that I am planning to have injected?
- has there been contamination during the processing of these cells that could harm me?
AT SOUTHCOAST REGENERATIVE MEDICINE WE USE AUTOLGOUS (YOUR OWN) CELLS. MANY STUDIES HAVE SHOW THAT THERE ARE LIVING VIABLE STEM CELLS IN BONE MARROW SAMPLES. THER IS ALSO NO RISK OF CONTAMINATION DURING PROCESSING.
COME FOR A VISIT AND LET US TEACH YOU ABOUT YOUR STEM CELL OPTIONS, AND EXPLAIN THE SAFETY AND PROVEN CLINICAL EFFECTIVENESS OF USING YOUR OWN CELLS!