Three women were left blind after they were injected stem cells in their eyes. The women thought they were enrolling in a trial registered by government, but the therapy had not been tested before, so their sight was irreversibly affected. This made the researchers strongly suggest that people should be careful with the treatments they receive, especially if they involve stem cells.
The research team that analyzed the cases was led by Dr. Ajay Kuriyan, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. They stated that the treatment the women received had never been studied in a clinical trial, did not have enough safety data, and was performed on both eyes at the same time. Untested injections into both eyes at the same time are both unsafe and atypical.
Treatments with stem cells are unsafe if they have not been tested
Dr. Thomas Albini, professor at the University of Miami, is a coauthor of the study. He says that clinical studies which involve stem cells are not completely unsafe, but they should be performed in accordance with the FDA standards and under close supervision, so that researchers can be safe and effective.
However, there are around 600 clinics all over the country which claim to perform stem cell treatment without having undergone rigorous testing beforehand. People think that stem cells can provide miraculous cures to almost any disorder, so they get engaged in such treatment sessions which, most of the time, are unsafe.
The women in question were aged 72 to 88 and they were slowly losing their sight due to macular degeneration given by old age. They found on clinicaltrials.gov that a clinic in Florida was performing a study to treat the condition. The name of the clinic was not made public, but the announcement revealed that the study was sponsored by Bioheart Inc. of Sunrise, Florida.
On Wednesday, the company revealed that they no longer treat eye conditions. Two of the three women involved sued the company and brought their cases to court. They had paid $5,000 to have fat removed from their body and then have extracted cells and plasma injected into their eyes.
The clinic did not undertake legitimate medical research
The patients should have been warned that they do not need to pay for medical research. Also, the doctors were not eye specialists, since they treated both eyes at the same time, which is a forbidden procedure.
For further reference, people should pay attention into what research they get involved, as they might put their health in danger. There are a few signs they should look at to make sure the research is legitimate.
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