Mood Disorders and Stem Cells

Thank you to Tallaght Trialogue for drawing my attention to Blue Horizon Stem Cells (you can see their website here) and a recent article they’ve written titled Mood Disorder (here).

The article contains a very brief discussion of the term mood disorder, including a mention of “major depressive disorder” and “bipolar disorder.”  It then goes on to say:

“To find out more about how you may benefit from stem cell therapy, please complete our Contact Us form and one of our physicians will reach out to you for a private consultation.”

Interestingly, it never actually says that stem cells can help with depression, but the implication is clear.  Blue Horizon Stem Calls is based in New York, and they list two phone numbers.

THE FACTS

In January of this year Neurology Today ran an article titled “Legal Ruling Puts the Brakes on Unlicensed Stem Cell Therapies.”  You can see it here.

Here are the first three paragraphs:

“Blue Horizon Stem Cells of New York City claims to offer stem cell treatments for heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, sports injuries, spinal cord injuries, stroke, and many more conditions. The Stem Cell Rejuvenation Center of Phoenix, AZ, charges patients a flat $7,600 fee to receive stem cell treatments for “a variety of conditions” — their Web site doesn’t get any more specific than that. And the Stem Cell Institute of Fort Lauderdale, FL, promises treatments for multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, autism, heart disease, and cerebral palsy. The price tag: between $15,000 and $20,000 — except for spinal cord injury, which one assumes costs more.

One thing these “stem cell clinics” all have in common: none of their treatments are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The operators argue that, since the stem cell treatments are simply “minimally manipulated” versions of the patient’s own cells, these therapies don’t constitute a drug or biologic that the FDA could regulate.

But a decision by a US District Court judge made last July could put the brakes on what several neurologists with expertise in stem cell research have likened to a “wild West” atmosphere. In U.S. v. Regenerative Sciences, Judge Rosemary Collyer declared that, contrary to claims made by Denver-based Regenerative Sciences, the stem cell treatments it offers for injuries and degenerative joint conditions, which it calls the “Regenexx” procedures — are subject to regulation by the US FDA.”

The article goes on to discuss the difference between genuine stem cell work (slow, careful, scientific and appropriately regulated), and the other sort (unscientific, no demonstrated efficacy).

It’s also pointed out that, given the media coverage and the strong expectations of healing associated with stem cells, the field is particularly open to placebo effects.

Now what does that remind me of?