Unregulated stem cell therapies remain a concern

Unregulated stem cell therapies are of great concern to the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine (OIRM). In light of recent news reports about Health Canada requesting that unregulated and untested therapies cease, we wanted to reiterate our position on this issue.

Canada, and Ontario in particular, is a leader in research into stem cell therapies and has strict regulations in place to ensure these therapies are rigorously tested before they are moved into patient trials.

In Canada, all new therapies, including stem cell therapies, must be approved by Health Canada before they can be offered in a hospital or clinical setting. All other treatments are considered experimental or unproven. At this time, very few treatments have met the strict standards set out by Health Canada and, while there are many on the horizon, the need to ensure they are safe is paramount.

“Stem cell therapies have the potential to be life-changing and we are pleased to have Ontario at the forefront of this research,” says Dr. Duncan Stewart, President and Scientific Director of the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine. “However, we must continue to be diligent in ensuring that patients are only receiving treatments that have been fully tested and approved by Health Canada. The wait for these therapies can be frustrating to those who are desperate for a cure and the lure of a miracle can be enticing, but we must keep in mind that untested therapies can cause more harm than good.”

Currently, there are no approved stem cell therapies for osteoarthritis or sports injuries in Ontario, which are two of the treatments often mentioned by clinics offering untested therapies.

OIRM encourages rigorous standards for all healthcare claims and encourages anyone considering a stem cell treatment of any kind to ask questions to ensure that this treatment has been approved by Health Canada.

OIRM also supports the enforcement of Health Canada regulations and encourages reporting all clinics making claims about stem cell treatments to Health Canada for vetting.

Those with questions or concerns about stem cell therapies can visit the OIRM website or the International Society for Stem Cell Research to find answers to their questions about therapies they may be considering.

Media Contact:

Krista Lamb
Director, Communications and Marketing
Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine