American Lengthy Covid Victims Preyed on by Unregulated Stem Cell Clinics

Dozens of well being clinics throughout the nation are promoting unauthorized stem cell remedies purported to forestall and deal with the unintended effects of COVID-19.

Thirty-eight companies serving round 60 clinics in the US, Mexico, and elsewhere are offering stem cell remedies and exosome therapies, most of which additionally declare to deal with Lengthy Covid, in accordance with a brand new paper within the journal Stem Cell Reviews.

Lengthy Covid is a time period for the long-term results of a COVID-19 an infection with signs together with tiredness, fevers, shortness of breath, coughing and chest ache, mind fog, dizziness, anxiousness and despair, and digestive signs, in accordance with the CDC.

These remedies haven’t been permitted by the Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) or different nationwide regulators and “don’t look like supported by convincing security and efficacy knowledge,” the authors wrote within the paper.

Stem cell remedies work by inserting stem cells right into a affected person, the place they may develop and adapt to the chosen tissue, repairing injury. These remedies are normally very particular, and the stem cells could have been ready and probably genetically modified to greatest carry out within the tissue or organ that requires therapeutic. Exosome remedy makes use of exosomes, that are tiny particles discovered inside stem cells, to ship proteins and different molecules to areas that want therapy.

Inventory picture of stem cells. Unregulated stem cell remedies for Lengthy Covid and different COVID-19 signs are being offered by clinics within the U.S. and past.
ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS

Nonetheless, some of these therapy should endure rigorous investigation earlier than being permitted by a physique such because the FDA, which not one of the alleged Lengthy Covid remedies have. Moreover, injecting undifferentiated pluripotent stem cells right into a affected person is unsafe, because it may trigger tumors to type. Prior to now, unproven stem cell remedies have led to sufferers being blinded, contaminated with harmful pathogens, and even paralyzed.

These remedies can nonetheless be marketed legally with out FDA approval, nevertheless.

“People who find themselves going surfing and searching for remedies, particularly for Lengthy COVID, should be alert to advertising and marketing misrepresentations that reduce dangers and make deceptive claims in regards to the chance of advantages,” Leigh Turner, a bioethics professor on the College of California, Irvine, and lead writer of the paper, mentioned in a press release.

“It is comprehensible given the appreciable variety of people that proceed to expertise sickness following the acute an infection section of COVID-19. It is also disturbing as a result of the folks paying for these merchandise should not being supplied entry to evidence-based remedies.”

The stem cell remedies claiming to deal with Lengthy Covid haven’t been permitted and even confirmed to truly do what they are saying on the tin.

“The sufferers being focused by such advertising and marketing claims are significantly weak,” Turner mentioned. “They’re struggling, and in some circumstances, they have been struggling for a very long time, making them extremely inclined to deceptive advertising and marketing representations and persuasive advertising and marketing pitches. And whereas a few of these sufferers may need entry to respected Lengthy COVID clinics working with greatest out there proof, that entry doesn’t suggest they’re getting the therapeutic reduction they’re searching for.”

Twenty-four of the 60 clinics offering these remedies are U.S.-based, whereas an extra 22 are in Mexico, and a number of other others are discovered throughout the Cayman Islands, Guatemala, Malaysia, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Spain, Thailand, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates, the paper reveals

Earlier than these clinics claimed to deal with Lengthy Covid, a lot of them mentioned they might deal with acute COVID-19 signs in the course of the spring of 2020 and even stop the an infection altogether.

“It is a shape-shifting market,” Turner mentioned. “Some companies stopped advertising and marketing after receiving warning letters from the Meals and Drug Administration or the Federal Commerce Fee. Different firms and clinics have entered {the marketplace} and in some circumstances apparently managed to keep away from detection by regulatory our bodies and regulation enforcement companies.”

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Inventory picture of COVID-19 virus particles. Unauthorized stem cell remedies might be harmful for sufferers.
ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS

Not solely are these remedies probably ineffective and even dangerous, however they’re additionally extortionate: “The least costly product value $2,950, the most costly was $25,000, and the typical listed value for sufferers was $11,322,” the authors wrote within the paper.

“Along with the potential of being harmed by these merchandise, there’s additionally the potential of being scammed out of 1000’s of {dollars},” Turner mentioned.

The authors hope that their findings will assist stem cell therapies be dominated as requiring FDA approval earlier than they’ll attain folks, as at present, entrepreneurs of unproven stem cell-based interventions could make exaggerated claims in regards to the results of their merchandise.

“There was a strong response from regulatory our bodies and regulation enforcement companies to firms making unsubstantiated claims within the early days of the pandemic,” Turner mentioned. “I hope this examine encourages regulatory our bodies and regulation enforcement companies in these nations to proceed to behave in response to those companies, that are placing sufferers liable to bodily accidents and monetary losses through the use of deceptive advertising and marketing representations to promote unapproved and unproven merchandise.”

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