Some amniotic stem cell clinics seem to be trying to get their cake and eat it too.

Usually the amniotic stem cell clinics market their products as “ stem cells” and the implication is that living stem tissues are used to effectively treat many medical conditions. I have not observed it mentioned that what some of the clinics, perhaps many of them, inject into patients is really a “ dead” extract associated with amniotic membranes instead. Not living cells.  

Are the clinics injecting amniotic stem cells or simply a mishmash of dead “ stuff” from  exactly what were once cells?   For any given clinic offering amniotic stem cells, who knows if what they are injecting is definitely alive or dead.

If  the treatment centers are actually injecting extracts, these would be cheaper and possibly easier on FDA compliance. But those clinics most likely don’ t want to tell patients that reality so the clinics can continue to charge an arm and a leg via stem cell buzz, in some cases potentially falsely marketing what they do as involving actual live cells.

In this way perhaps many of the centers in essence try to get the best of both worlds financially via the “ zombie state” of their amniotic products, viewed as both still living (to patients) and dead (in reality and to government bodies, should them come knocking) depending on the perspective.

Some clinics pitching amniotics may be transplanting living tissue. While living amniotic stem cells, even if they are not real stem cells, could have some beneficial properties and are worth examining in controlled FDA-approved, clinical trials, such cells really should not be sold to patients without FDA approval that they are effective and safe.

Amniotic extracts are in my view a lot less likely to be beneficial and are probably useless in most cases. They may or even may not contain some growth factors or other “ stuff”, but depending on many factors (storage conditions, amniotic harvest protocol, age, etc . )  they could even perform harm.

In either case, another big question comes after: where is this amniotic material coming from? Are hospitals marketing it? Do they have consent from the new moms to do this? Is broad research consent from a new mom adequate for the hospital to then sell the amniotic/placental materials at a profit to a for-profit clinic? If living tissues are involved, how are they frozen and protected from contaminants? Since these “ treatments” are inherently allogeneic (non-self), how are patients protected from possible immune complications?

Many  questions remain unanswered about amniotic stem cell clinics even as their numbers seem to be boosting across the country.

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