We live in the era of information overload: on our phones, tablets, and laptops, we are continually inundated with facts, figures, and opinions from Facebook, WebMD, and numerous other sources.
It’s no surprise, then, that patients are often confused when pursuing options for stem cell therapy. Having heard that this field of medicine presents a viable alternative to surgery and other conventional approaches, they start doing their homework.
They then read an article or study that supports one stem cell center’s argument, only to come across another saying the exact opposite.
No two stem cell therapy centers are created alike
While all can be considered providers in the regenerative medicine space, each center has its own set of distinguishing nuances and characteristics. Most notable is their preferred technique of stem cell administration:
- The Stem Cell Institute in Panama offers patients cells extracted from umbilical tissues.
- GIOSTAR offers mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from sourced from adipose / fatty tissue
- Regenexx provides patients with cells derived from bone marrow
All of these providers believe that their method is the best, and often provide studies to support this.
What patients must understand
1. Stem cell centers will always look out for #1: themselves. They will aggressively market their own services as being superior to those of their competitors. This strategy is understandable in the fiercely competitive stem cell industry, which some have estimated to reach $15.6 billion by 2025.
2. Each lab process involves a complicated series of steps to derive the finished product. Even when considering two companies that extract adipose from a patient to obtain MSCs, for instance, the results will vary.
No two apples are exactly identical.
- Center A may culture cells
- Center B may add certain growth factors
- Other centers using MSCs from adipose may not do any of the above
It is all about the lab processing techniques.
3. Consider the case of two patients with the same condition. They go to a facility where the center uses one lab processing technique, and extracts the same amount of adipose from both patients from the same part of the body.
Do you think the stem cell counts for these two patients will be identical? No, of course not. The count will depend on each patient’s biology and numerous other factors. Hence, it would be impossible to rely on a few testimonials from a patient suffering from the same condition that your results will be exactly the same.
4. You need comfort. You need certainty. You want to hear that this path is a silver bullet that will “fix” your problem.
If any center tells you with 100% certainty, that they will “cure” you, avoid them like the plague.
Think about when you visit your physician, for diabetes, COPD, or numerous other disorders. He / she will likely say “I have seen X, Y, Z outcomes in several of my patients, but results will vary. I would advise that you try this medication.”
Of course, when the medication doesn’t work, or causes unforeseen side effects, the doctor “goes back to the drawing board” to either modify the dosage, try a different medication, or eliminate it from the regimen entirely.
Regenerative medicine works in a very similar fashion; any salesperson or doctor who promises anything else is not being truthful to you.
5. When you are suffering from a specific condition, you may go see your doctor and then you may get a second opinion. That second opinion could be the complete opposite of the first doctor that you had consulted. There is no “right” or “wrong” here; both doctors may have valid points.
6. As a patient, when you decide on a center for your therapy, you need to trust them. If you are continuously questioning their capabilities, their science, or credibility, then you have not built that trust.
Food for Thought
Here are some considerations to take into account when reviewing information about stem cell therapy providers:
- Is the center you are looking into a legitimate and credible one? Have they treated several thousands of patients?
- How long have they been in business?
- Are they a science-based center or do they simply use the term “medical doctor” to gain credibility? Bear in mind that, just because a physician has an “MD” attached to their name, they aren’t necessarily qualified to administer stem cell therapy to patients. This is not traditional medicine whereby doctors undergo 4 years of education in providing stem cell therapy.
- Have they conducted an extensive number of scientific studies in this field?
- If the center has a scientist who devises these protocols, what are his qualifications? The problem is that many patients focus exclusively on the physician and not the underlying science. While they play an important role in the process, doctors are only on the clinical side and perform the administration of the cells. The real question is, what is “in there?” What are they injecting back into the body? Are these cells an outsourced product created by a third party vendor
Do they really know?
- Do they have any existing or pending Investigational New Drug (IND) applications with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?
Regenerative medicine offers great promise and opportunity to those suffering from numerous degenerative diseases. With this opportunity, of course, comes the rise of a plethora of perspectives, techniques, and data that may confuse and overwhelm patients. GIOSTAR Chicago firmly believes that individuals must be well-informed when making decisions about their body. Before speaking with a potential stem cell therapy provider, do your own research, and ask yourself some key questions to help wade through the videos, tweets, and other data they offer.
GIOSTAR Chicago welcomes any questions that may arise as you look to make your decision. We invite you to reach out to us today to learn about GIOSTAR – notably the groundbreaking research of our Co-Founder and Chairman Dr. Anand Srivastava. You can contact us by completing a brief medical history form, or contacting us via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (844 446 7827).