Adverse Events With Stem Cell Therapies For Knee Arthritis

Stem cell therapies are not benign. There has been an increased number of stem cell therapies where patients “stem cells” are harvested from them and then injected back into their knee to regenerate cartilage. These therapies are often claimed to be approved by the FDA and have a series of basic science articles outlining their benefit. To date, there have been no high quality clinical trials demonstrating efficacy of these types of therapies. When a claim is made that it has “been approved by the FDA” it usually means that the therapy falls outside of FDA regulation.

An unfortunate consequence of any therapy are adverse events. In this case, there have been a series of reports of significant adverse events with stem cell injections. Below are three articles from the New England Journal of Medicine outlining the development of cancer, tumors, and blindness after stem cell injections. The article on the right is an editorial from the FDA stating that more clinical trials on stem cells are necessary to show both safety and benefit.