Three Florida Women Go Blind After Undergoing Experimental Stem Cell Treatment

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Stem cells have the power of curing many illnesses if used properly after full research and experimentation. However, the same can turn fatal if used without proper knowhow.

Something similar took place in Florida where three women were rendered blind after they enroled in a government- registered stem cell trail to cure their illness. After the unproven trial was conducted on them, they were left blind.

Unproven Stem Cell Trail Experiment Fails

The researchers have published an analysis of the cases of the three patients along with the advantages and fatalities involved with stem cell therapy.

“The patients paid for a procedure that had never been studied in a clinical trial, lacked sufficient safety data, and was performed in both eyes on the same day,” stated the research team.

The researchers were led by Dr. Ajay Kuriyan, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York City.

Kuriyan adds that experimental trials involving injections in to both eyes on the same day and at the same time is not only unusual but also unsafe.

The co-author of the study Dr. Thomas Albini in conversation with Reuters stated that all clinical stem cell trials are not dangerous. However, the experiments and trials must follow a traditional pattern like all clinical ones involving Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so that all can know about the safety and success rate of these experiments.

Stem Cell Experiment Studies

The researchers have published a pair of reports, where the first reports documents the case analysis of the three elderly women who were unfortunately blinded by the experiment.

The women who went in for the treatment had fairly functional vision before the trial was conducted on them. All the three women who went in for the stem cell trails are aged between 72 to 88 and were suffering from age-related macular degeneration, which causes loss of vision in the elderly.

The trials were advertised to the public as treatment for macular degeneration and had injected stem cells in both their eyes. Each of the women had paid around $5,000 to get fat removed from their bellies through the process of liposuction. Cells and blood plasma was extracted from the fat and was injected in to the eyes of the women.

In the second report, the researchers state the fact that a patient suffering from the same condition as the three elderly women experienced a halt in the loss of eyesight after the patient was treated with a different kind of a stem cell derived from skin in Japan.  

The trial in Japan was designed very carefully and is at a stark contrast with the first report. The Japanese clinical trial is also one of the first stem cell experiments were pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, were used to treat any condition.

The report of these cases has led to growing pressure on FDA to catch hold of hundred of these types of clinics that are marketing unproven stem cell treatments for various types of medical conditions and  disorders.

The study has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 15.

Photo: Tareq Salahuddin | Flickr 

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