Stem cell therapy is a procedure that helps to repair unhealthy, dysfunctional and injured tissue by using stem cells.
Stem cells are a specific class of human cells that have the ability to turn into any type of human cell.
The implication of this is that stem cells can be used to regenerate various types of tissue, such as brain tissue, muscle tissue and essentially any other types of cells found in the human body.
In this article, we are going to give an overview of stem cell therapy in America, including topics such as the historic and contemporary legality of stem cell therapy, the average cost of stem cell therapy in the USA, and what stem cells are currently being used for.
Is Stem Cell Therapy Legal In The United States?
There is currently no law banning stem cell research in the United States, although there have been certain restrictions with funding over the past few decades .
As of 2019, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are only a limited number of stem cell therapies that are FDA approved.
Stem cell therapies that involve bone marrow transplants in cancer patients and cord blood for other blood-related disorders are the only stem-cell-based therapies that are FDA approved.
Despite only very specific disorders being FDA approved to be treated with stem cell therapy, this isn’t to say that other forms of stem cell therapy don’t work, for both medical and cosmetic reasons.
There is evidence supporting the efficacy of stem cell therapies, but as with all health-related procedures, there are benefits and claims that are overexaggerated by those who have monetary incentives.
The Legal History Of Stem Cell Therapy In America
The 1950s were when stem cells were first used. It was at this time when the first marrow transplants were completed to treat leukemia (blood cancer).
By the mid-70s, the United States Congress was more involved in stem cell research, and by 1997, the first major amendment relating to stem cell research was passed.
Since 1996 to the present, several Congress and court cases have discussed the policy surrounding the efficacy and legality of stem cell research.
In 2001, President George Bush signed an executive order which prohibited federal funding of embryonic (human embryo) stem cell research. In 2005, Congress passed H.R 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, which expanded the federal funding for stem cell research. President Bush then vetoed the bill.
In 2009, President Obama upended President Bush’s 2001 order to veto the bill. Following this reversal of President Bush’s order, several important discoveries in stem cell research were made.
In 2013, the first human nuclear transfer embryonic stem cells were created at Oregon Health and Science University (5). This discovery helped researchers make many leaps forward, especially with regards to heart health.
In 2016, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act, which ensures consistent regulatory reviews of regenerative therapies, with stem cell therapy being included in this list.
Today, stem cell research and therapy are legal, as long medical professionals have permission from the donor.
How Much Does Stem Cell Therapy Cost In The USA?
How much stem cell therapy costs is contingent on a range of different factors. Many estimates range from between $1,500 to as high as $30,000.
There are several important factors that determine the cost of stem cell therapy…
- What exactly is being injected into a patient?
- Which medical professional is performing the stem cell therapy procedure?
- In which state or city is the stem cell therapy clinic based in?
- How exactly is the stem cell therapy procedure being performed?
- How many areas of the body are being subjected to stem cell therapy and to what extent?
Answering these questions will help narrow down a more accurate prediction of what stem cell therapy will cost.
To give some examples, one-time treatments that use blood drawn from a patient on the spot can be as cheap as $1,500, while more complicated procedures can be closer to $15,000-$30,000.
The reason there is such a disparity in the cost of stem cell therapy is that more complicated procedures may require something such as bone marrow or adipose (fat) tissue extraction.
These procedures are of course more invasive, consume more time, and are required to be performed by a medical professional with specific training in an area such as liposuction.
What Are Stem Cells Currently Being Used For?
Since stem cells are able to turn into any type of human cell, there are numerous ways that stem cells can be used for research and for clinical purposes.
Stem cells can be used to replace cells and treat diseases such as…
- Spinal cord injury
- Huntington’s disease
- Parkinsons’ disease
- Macular degeneration
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Severe burns
- Heart diseases
- Hearing loss
The prospect that stem cell therapy can be viable for such a range of conditions is indeed exciting. However, it’s also important to remember that for some of these diseases, the research is still very much in its infancy.
There are currently multiple ongoing clinical trials looking at the use of stem cell therapies for stroke.
Researchers are also exploring the possibility of using stem cells to replace cells damaged in the inner ear, which may help to reverse hearing damage.
Researchers are also using stem cells to repair the fragile bones in those who are experiencing bone degeneration from osteoporosis, a disease where bone density and integrity is compromised .
Stem cells are also being used to test the safety and viability of new medications. Since stem cells have such versatility, there is potential to eliminate some unnecessary animal testing of medications.
The Bottom Line
Stem cell therapy can help to repair and regenerate unhealthy and injured tissue. Stem cells are able to turn into any type of cell, which means that stem cells can be used to regenerate a range of different tissues found in the body, and therefore, potentially help to alleviate issues associated with a wide range of conditions.
Stem cell therapies are legal, but only cord blood therapies are FDA approved as of 2019.
Despite some controversy with regards to the efficacy of stem cell therapies, there is a lot of promising research. Overtime, accessibility to stem cell therapy should increase and we should see a decrease in current prices.