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AAN 2024 | Raising awareness of the misuse of stem cell therapies in neurology

Andrew Wolf, MD, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, discusses the misuse of stem cell therapies that is being observed in neurology, highlighting some key goals of a session on stem cell therapy at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Meeting 2024. Stem cell therapies are being investigated for neurological indications in registered clinical trials, but they are also increasingly sought out by patients in off-label and non-regulated settings abroad. This raises concern amongst clinicians, as adverse events following stem cell treatments can be highly dangerous with a lack of appropriate monitoring and management. Adverse events range from those that are expected with stem cell therapy, such as low-grade infections and chronic pain, to​​ reactions that occur rarely and unpredictably, such as infections in the intrathecal space and uncontrolled glial cell proliferation. ​​Dr Wolf also explains that, even if the therapies are safe, they may not provide patients with any meaningful clinical benefit despite costing tens of thousands of dollars. There is a necessity to raise awareness of the misuse of these therapies in neurology by collaborating with societies and patient advocacy groups and by promoting conversations between clinicians and patients in the clinic. This interview took place at the AAN Annual Meeting 2024 in Denver, CO.

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