Saturday, 18 January 2020

What a Pragmatic Approach to Regenerative Medicine Looks Like

Sometimes it can seem like the debate over the efficacy and safety of regenerative medicine is extreme on both sides. There are those who believe stem cell and PRP therapies are magic cures for everything that ails you; others think that regenerative medicine is the modern version of quackery. Both extremes are just that: extreme views that rarely reflect the truth.

As with most things in life, we should avoid the extremes in regenerative medicine. Instead, a pragmatic approach to dealing in known facts will be a lot more helpful in determining how and when regenerative medicine is to be utilized in future years.

So, what does a pragmatic approach look like? That depends on your perspective. Let us look at three such perspectives in a bit more detail.

1. The Researcher’s Perspective

Researchers looking into the possible benefits of regenerative medicine should always be approaching studies with a completely open mind. This may sound obvious to you, but the fact is that science is not always completely unbiased. Researchers and those who put up the money for said research quite often go into new projects with a bias already established.

We know quite a bit about things like stem cells and platelet-rich plasma. But the more we learn, the more we understand how little we really know. Humanity’s lack of knowledge regarding regenerative medicine is all the more reason to avoid any and all bias and let the research tell us what it can.

2. The Doctor’s Perspective

Growing numbers of doctors are looking at regenerative medicine as an alternative to more traditional treatments. Both PRP and stem cell treatments are an alternative to joint replacement surgery for some osteoarthritis patients, for example. Still, doctors must remember that regenerative medicine is not a cure-all. They must never be marketed as such.

Doctors also recognize that regenerative medicine is currently a cash-only business. Insurance companies do not cover regenerative medicine procedures. That means doctors have to weigh their business interests alongside the best interests of their patients. The pragmatic approach says don’t put profits ahead of patient outcomes.

One last thing that doctors need to keep in mind is training. According to the Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute, there are no state or federal mandates covering regenerative medicine training at the current time. But that does not mean doctors should attempt regenerative medicine procedures without learning how to do so properly. Training is of utmost importance.

3. The Patient’s Perspective

Finally, pragmatism in the patient arena starts with the knowledge that regenerative medicine has its limits. Patients should go into discussions with their doctors understanding that stem cell or PRP injections might not be appropriate for them. And even if they are, the treatments might not work.

Pragmatism dictates that patients do their homework as well. They should sit down and speak with their doctors. They should check credentials, a doctor’s past history, and so forth. They should check to see if a particular clinic has ever faced enforcement action or been found in noncompliance by the FDA.

Asking about physician training is not out of the question, either. In fact, knowing how and where a doctor was trained to perform regenerative medicine procedures can put patients’ minds at ease.

Regenerative medicine has proven itself helpful for treating certain kinds of diseases, injuries, and conditions. It shows a lot of potential for future treatments as well. In the meantime, is it possible to set aside the extreme viewpoints – and the rhetoric that comes with them – in favor of a more pragmatic approach? Yes, if we choose to.

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