Given the unique regenerative ability of stem cells, research in this area holds tremendous promise for the development of therapeutic treatments for chronic diseases such as, diabetes and heart disease.
There is also indication that certain cellular therapies could be beneficial in treating musculoskeletal disease, though more research and clinical trials must be done.
Unfortunately, some organizations are not waiting on the research and appealing to patients directly – often with misleading information, terminology and claims – in order to participate in what has quickly become a lucrative market.
Some reports speculate that the global stem cell market is expected to reach “US 270.5 Billion by 2025, while increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 13.8% over the period of 2017 to 2025. North America accounts for a leading share in the market and is projected to be worth USD 167.33 Billion by 2025.” 1
The lead analyst of the report explains, “The growing prevalence of chronic diseases and increasing investments of pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies in stem cell research are the key driving factors for the stem cells therapeutics market.”1
While the use of cellular therapies and regenerative medicine to treat some musculoskeletal conditions like osteoarthritis of the hip or knee in lieu of surgical intervention is appealing to patients, physicians and researchers caution that such treatment is still very new. Researchers need to study its safety and the long-term outcomes.
Additionally, with relatively little regulation some treatments identified as “stem cell treatments” technically are not – and pose a safety concern.
A recent article published in The Bone & Joint Journal, Rogue Stem Cell Clinics, spotlights the need for continued research in this area and the safety concerns regarding clinics promising treatments without the scientific evidence to support them. The article authored by members of the Biologics Association warned of the inaccuracy of terminology and claims used in some direct to consumer marketing material. 2
The authors wrote, “despite a considerable legitimate research effort, there is increasing concern about the range of unregulated and poorly characterized cell therapies being offered by some providers, often marketed as ‘stem cells,’ with claims of efficacy and safety not founded on clinical evidence” – a practice becoming increasingly more common in the United States.
It is always best to first consult with your doctor before pursuing any new treatment or therapy.