Journal Articles Highlight Risks and Benefits of Unproven Stem Cell Treatments

March 22, 2017 | Risk Management News


Two articles published in the New England Journal of Medicine in March 2017 highlight the dangers and benefits of using unproven stem cell injections to treat age-related macular degeneration. In the first article, three elderly patients with macular degeneration experienced severe to complete vision loss (described as visual acuity ranging from 20/200 to no light perception) one year after they received intravitreal injections of adult stem cells derived from adipose tissue at a for-profit clinic in Florida as part of a clinical trial. In all three cases, one-year outcomes were "dramatically worse" than one-year outcomes that have been reported using alternative methods to treat the same condition. The second article describes a Japanese study in which a patient with macular degeneration received an injection of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that were converted into retinal pigment epithelium cells.

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