The Niche top posts of 2016

stem cell fireworksWhat were the top posts here on The Niche for the past year? I’ve listed some of them below along with some posts from 2015 that remain highly read.

Some top 2016 posts

2015 and older posts that remain highly read every day

Sacramento Nervana stem cell clinic spreads to San Diego

Nervana stem cellIt’s been an odd experience having a local stem cell clinic, called Nervana, here in Sacramento to watch in terms of how they handle things such as advertising. I’ve also heard quite a lot from people within our community asking about Nervana.

Now the business is selling non-FDA approved stem cell therapies in San Diego too.

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Nervana stem cell clinic: big ads in SacBee & big questions continue

The local stem cell clinic here in Sacramento, Nervana Stem Cell Centers, continues to advertise treatments in The Sacramento Bee and there continue to be big questions about this situation. I’ve blogged about Nervana before and you can see the archived posts here.

Nervana stem cell ad

Nervana must be spending big money on advertising because they have run many full-page ads in the Sac Bee in 2016. Those aren’t cheap. You can see the latest ad above in this morning’s paper.

The focus lately seems to be on marketing stem cells to treat neuropathy. One of the questions I have is whether there is evidence that using stem cells to treat neuropathy and other conditions such as arthritis is safe.

Is there any data showing it is effective?

Are consumers getting their money’s worth? These are expensive experimental treatments and stem cell treatment cost is a big issue in this arena today.

Is this OK with the FDA?

The fine print. As to that last question at least one past ad for this group seemed to suggest FDA compliance. However, in the fine print on today’s ad it says amongst other things, “the use of stem cells is not FDA approved for the treatment of the conditions that we treat and their use is investigational.” Some caution there from the clinic.

The word “investigational” there is also an interesting one as it raises the question again about whether the use of stem cells in this way would constitute the use of an “investigational drug” as the FDA would put it. If the answer is “yes”, then clinics should be getting FDA approval in advance.

It also says in an aspirational tone in the fine print, “However, we do believe in the healing power of stem cells and offer them to you in advance of any potential scientific discoveries that may prove their efficacy.”

Biomedical treatments should be, in my opinion, based on more than belief and should not be sold prior to proof.

Stem cell clinic Nervana new ad claims no side effects & FDA OK

Stem cell clinics are spreading like wild-fire across the U.S.

Nervana ad march 28 A few months back the Sacramento area got a new stem cell clinic selling amniotic stem cell therapies for a variety of ills including most prominently arthritis and pain. This clinic is called Nervana Stem Cell Center.

I first noticed it via a huge ad in our local paper, The SacBee.

More recently, Nervana has advertised again in full-page spreads in the SacBee, but going by a different name: Lee Medical Group.

Yesterday, I saw another one of these ads for Lee Medical Group/Nervana (at left).

The SacBee must be collecting huge amounts of money for these ads, but should they even be running them? In my view, this stem cell clinic is selling unproven stem cell-based hope that could put patients at a variety of risks without published scientific data to back up that it works.

The clinic ads are making specific medical and regulatory claims too that seem dubious to me. For instance, if you look at the image at right of a specific part of the ad it says, “no known side effects”. Nervana ad medical claim Of course any treatment could have side effects and that includes something as simple as aspirin. Stem cell therapies are complicated and can have side effects that are serious.

It’s hard to even find out who the doctors are at this clinic even by calling them, looking at the ads, or going to their website. It seems most likely that the physicians are Drs. Tushar Goradia and Clarence Lee, but I’m not 100% sure. If this is not correct, I hope that Nervana will let me know and fill the community in on what is going on at the clinic in terms of the practitioners there. For instance, I have been trying to find out what experience and training these doctors have with stem cells.

Whoever heard of a medical clinic that won’t tell you who its doctors are?

Nervana Ad close up FDAAlso, I have other questions. Is their amniotic stem cell therapy based on living cells or some extract?

I’m guessing it is the latter, but the ads seem to imply the former. In either case, what is the source of this amniotic material?

Their most recent ad also claims that the FDA is OK with their treatments, but is that right? In part it would depend on that question as to whether they are using living cells, the source of the cells, the question of homologous use (e.g. are amniotic stem cells similar enough to joint tissue to be considered not a drug requiring preapproval from the FDA before use), and much more.

It seems like at this point we have tons of questions about this stem cell clinic in the Northern California area and our community, but few answers.

An important additional question at another level is whether the SacBee should even be running these ads given this context and so many unknowns about this business. I’m trying to ask our local paper about this, but so far haven’t gotten very far.

Sacramento amniotic stem cell clinic advertises again, but by another name

Remember Nervana Stem Cell Center? This is an amniotic stem cell clinic here in the Sacramento area, which I’ve posted about before here and here.

One big question about Nervana remains unanswered: is its apparent marketing of amniotic stem cells for arthritis and other conditions is OK with the FDA?

Another question has been, “who are the medical providers at the clinic?” There are indications that these physicians are Drs. Tushar Goradia and Clarence Lee.

Lee Medical Group Stem Cells

I first noticed Nervana because of full-page ads in the local paper here, The SacBee. A couple of days I noticed new giant ads in the paper for stem cells, but puzzlingly there was no mention of Nervana at all anymore. Instead it said “Lee Medical Group” What the heck? Another new stem cell clinic in the area or not?

I’ve pasted a photo of the ad here.

I called the phone # on this new ad and the representative answered the phone, “Nervana Stem Cell Center”. I guess it is the same company so why the change in the name in the ad? I didn’t get an answer from the Nervana person on the phone.

There are a lot of remaining questions about all of this.