June 6, 2021

Weekly reads: cancer stem cells & other pubs plus a puzzler

Weekly reads: cancer stem cells & other pubs plus a puzzler

The journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine got some attention in recent weeks for some back and forth related to controversial papers it has published on cord blood and other unproven approaches to autism.

Now UPI picked up (Stem cell therapy could reverse Type 2 diabetes for some) a stem cell-related article in Stem Cell Translational Medicine that again seems puzzling.

It reports on an open-label, uncontrolled study from Hanoi, Vietnam.

The work claims that bone marrow stem cells can help type-II diabetes in some patients.

There is no clear rationale for this approach.

Also, the article reports that it only showed signs of efficacy in patients who met both of these criteria: having diabetes for less than 10 years and BMI of 22 or less.  People in Southeast Asia tend to have lower BMI’s than Americans, but still 22 or less is a low BMI for people with type-II diabetes.

What is the point of a journal publishing this kind of study? I don’t get the benefit to the scientific community and there are potential downsides.

Part of what concerns me is that many stem cell clinics are selling the idea of stem cells for diabetes.

That includes in some cases bone marrow stem cells. We’ve seen cases many times where published weak trials are used for promotion by clinics including with cellular approaches to autism.

This kind of work also may give false hope to patients and their families.

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