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  • Article Looks at Stem Cell Clinic Debate

    As the prominence of stem cell clinics has increased, so has attention from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—along with more public debate on whether the techniques are useful interventions or a new form of "quackery."

    In a recent article in STAT, an online health care and science magazine, reporter Usha Lee McFarling looks at the arguments for and against therapies that involve injecting stem cells processed from the patient into an injured area. Proponents say it speeds healing and can help patients avoid surgery, while detractors question its effectiveness and legality.

    According to the STAT article, "federal regulators are preparing to crack down on scores of clinics" that perform the therapies, based in part on new FDA guidelines (.pdf) that define the stem cells used in most clinics as drugs that require "a rigorous approval process."

    The article includes interviews with critics who describe the stem cell approach as a "huge unproven human experiment," as well as with providers who perform the therapies and claim that the injections are not drugs but "simple outpatient surgeries that should not be regulated."

    This isn't the first time the rise of stem cell clinics has gained wider media attention: in September 2015, USA Today focused on the topic in a feature article. The topic of regenerative medicine in general, and the physical therapist's relationship to it, will also be the subject of a cover story in the March issue of APTA’s PT in Motion magazine.

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