US health officials reveal 12 patients have been struck down with bacterial infections after injections of stem cells from UMBILICAL CORD blood
- The patients came from three different states – Florida, Texas and Arizona
- Officials at the CDC have revealed all of the patients were all hospitalized
- Stem cells are very young cells than can develop into specialized cells
- They can be harvested from adults, as well as umbilical cord blood
At least a dozen people in the US have caught bacterial infections after receiving stem cell injections derived from umbilical cord blood.
Health officials warned at least 12 patients in three different states – Florida, Texas and Arizona – have been struck down.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed all of the patients were hospitalized.
Three of the patients, who all sought the jabs for problems such as back pain, spent at least a month in the hands of doctors. None died.
Officials found bacteria in unopened vials provided by the distributor Liveyon, based in Yorba Linda, California (pictured, the headquarters of the firm)
Investigators don’t think the contamination occurred at the clinics where the shots were given.
Instead, they found bacteria in unopened vials provided by the distributor Liveyon, based in Yorba Linda, California.
Liveyon voluntarily recalled the stem cells in October. However, the outbreak of infections has only just been reported.
Last month, the Food and Drug Administration sent a warning to Genetech Inc, the small San Diego company that processed the stem cells.
The FDA said the company should not be marketing the stem cells without regulators’ approval.
The body added the firm deviated from manufacturing requirements in ways that could have led to bacterial contamination.
Stem cells are very young cells than can develop into specialized cells, such as blood cells, bone cells and brain cells.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that at least 12 patients in three states, Florida, Texas and Arizona, became infected after getting embryonic stem cell injections for problems like joint and back pain (stock)
The cells are being studied as a potential way to treat many diseases and are currently approved for a handful of medical procedures.
In recent years, hundreds of private clinics have opened, promoting their use for diseases in which there is little evidence they are safe or effective.
Stem cells can be harvested from adults, but another source is umbilical cord blood, which can be collected at the time of birth.
It is stored and later used as a treatment for the child or family members who develop conditions like blood or immune disorders.
Officials say stems cells from cord blood also are being sold to doctors to treat patients for conditions like pain in their joints, shoulders or back.
Last year, the FDA announced plans to crack down in doctors and businesses promoting stem cell injections for diseases ranging from arthritis to Alzheimer’s disease.
The CDC reported stem cells from cord blood were the source of bacterial infections in seven in Texas, four in Florida and one in Arizona.
The average age of the patients was 74. Five different germs were seen in the patients, including one type of E. coli.
‘These are not organisms you want in your bloodstream or joint space,’ said Dr Kiran Perkins, the CDC medical officer leading the agency’s investigation.
WHAT ARE STEM CELLS?
Stem cells are a basic type of cell that can change into another type of more specialised cell through a process known as differentiation.
Think of stem cells as a fresh ball of clay that can be shaped and morphed into any cell in the body – including bone, muscle, skin and more.
This ability means they have been the focus of lots of medical research in recent decades.
They grow in embryos as embryonic stem cells, helping the rapidly growing infant form the millions of different cell types it needs to build before birth.
In adults they are used as repair cells, replacing those we lose through damage or ageing.