As most readers of this Blog already know, for more than 37 years, I was a reconstructive joint replacement surgeon at a major Chicago medical center, where I served as the director of the joint replacement program. I retired as emeritus professor seven years ago; after having pioneered the integration of a clinical practice with joint replacement research and education. While I had completed over 20,000 hip and knee replacements during my career and played a major role in authoring over 85 major orthopedic publications, one of the highlights of my career was the recognition by the resident staff of awarding me the teacher of the year award in orthopedic surgery. At the same time, I had the opportunity to share my joint replacement knowledge around the world. I addition, many orthopedic surgeons from across the globe would come to observe and learn my techniques. One such group came from Norway. What I learned from them during their visit was that no procedure would be allowed within the scope of the government health care system for which there wasn’t a ten-year outcome data base. Their health care system wouldn’t pay for that which didn’t have a track record and for which there wasn’t safety and efficacy studies.
I am continually amazed at the epidemic of web sites promising regenerative medicine treatments for which there is no data of success and for which there are no safety and efficacy studies. This false news seems to be an increasingly common phenomenon; more bothersome though are anecdotal outcomes cited in media placements without a scientific foundation. Last week, a major news outlet focused on a patient who had received stem cells in amniotic fluid. The hospital PR division scored a major success by placing the ad; but the Television Channel that broadcast the story apparently failed to do any independent scientific investigation to support the claims of living stem cells in commercially available amniotic fluid concentrate. The center behind the placement and the physician involved must have been influenced by the false news now commonplace; namely, amniotic fluid has living stem cells when concentrated, sterilized, irradiated, cryopreserved and fast thawed. Certainly, the video of the patient climbing stairs was a tribute to the success of the procedure; however, the success of unknown duration had nothing to do with the claim that the end result was based on regeneration attributable to stem cells.
Amniotic Fluid Concentrate has good things in it but not viable, living stem cells and there is no regenerative potential. I am able to so state as I am the principal investigator in a national ongoing amniotic fluid clinical trial to determine safety, efficacy, duration of effect and appropriate dosage.