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For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org

Why is it likely to be some time before proposed stem cell treatments become available?

Q) My question is why is it likely to be some time before proposed stem cell treatments become available to patients? I wondered if you have any knowledge about Regenexx in Colorado in the US. They appear to have mastered the art of treating people using stem cells for osteoarthritis. What are your views on the work they do? Regenexx cultured stem cell procedure has been stopped by the Food and Drug Administration in the US. The FDA now deem the procedure to be a drug and not a medical practice. Regenexx are currently trying to reinstate the procedure and believe it will take between 4–12 months.
Robert Sturgess, Stafford, Staffordshire (Spring 2011)

A) I think there are a number of points here. The approval process for new drugs and devices is a lengthy one. Despite the ‘red tape’, these procedures are largely designed to protect you from harm and to ensure that the cost of the procedure is appropriate for the benefit it will give. The latter role is currently undertaken by the National Institute for Heath and Clinical Excellence (NICE). As to Regenexx I can tell you that work with stem cells is occurring in many branches of medicine, including leukaemias, other cancers, neurological disease and musculoskeletal disorders. Indeed, Arthritis Research UK is funding such research in Oswestry. However, the case is not yet proven and it'll take some time for new treatments such as this to be fully evaluated before they are approved and widely available.

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