For an article, in the same issue of Cell Stem Cell, that provides evidence that such Guidelines are needed, see: Stem Cell Clinics Online: The Direct-to-Consumer Portrayal of Stem Cell Medicine by Darren Lau and 5 co-authors, including Timothy Caulfield, Cell Stem Cell 2008(Dec 4); 3(6): 591-4. PubMed Abstract:
Despite the immature state of stem cell medicine, patients are seeking and accessing putative stem cell therapies in an "early market" in which direct-to-consumer advertising via the internet likely plays an important role. We analyzed stem cell clinic websites and appraised the relevant published clinical evidence of stem cell therapies to address three questions about the direct-to-consumer portrayal of stem cell medicine in this early market: What sorts of therapies are being offered? How are they portrayed? Is there clinical evidence to support the use of these therapies? We found that the portrayal of stem cell medicine on provider websites is optimistic and unsubstantiated by peer-reviewed literature.See also: Laws needed to protect patients from stem cell clinics' exaggerated claims: study by Sheryl Ubelacker, Canadian Press, December 3, 2008. The first sentence:
Canadians should be "very skeptical" of foreign clinics that use websites to promote stem cell therapies for a wide range of medical conditions, warn researchers, saying there is a dearth of scientific evidence to back up their claims.Comments: The Guidelines contain no explicit mention of cancer SC. However, if one accepts the prediction that "diagnostic methods based on the detection of CSC’s will have the potential to address key limitations of current methods" [excerpt from Business Wire, April 26, 2007], then some attention needs to be paid to the known limitations of diagnostic methods. Two examples of relevant references:
1) Grading quality of evidence and strength of recommendations for diagnostic tests and strategies by Holger J Schünemann and 10 co-authors, including Gordon H Guyatt, BMJ 2008(May 17); 336(7653): 1106-10 [PubMed Citation]. Excerpt from the publicly-accessible Extract:
Inferring from data on accuracy that a diagnostic test or strategy improves patient-important outcomes will require the availability of effective treatment, reduction of test related adverse effects or anxiety, or improvement of patients’ wellbeing from prognostic information.Excerpt from the full text:
Although recommendations on diagnostic testing share the fundamental logic of recommendations on treatment, they present unique challenges.2) See also: Evaluation of clinical innovation: a gray zone in the ethics of modern clinical practice? by Johane Patenaude and 4 co-authors, J Gen Intern Med 2008(Jan); 23(Suppl 1): 27-31 [PubMed Citation]. Excerpt for the Conclusions section of the (publicly accessible) full text:
Innovation is a neglected area for ethics assessment. Further studies on a larger scale are necessary to review the concepts of experimental, innovative, and commonly accepted care.Perhaps a subsequent version of the ISSCR Guidelines should include a section on diagnostic tests involving CSC?