Misinformation on COVID Treatment Linked to Overhyped Science


However, this has not stopped the emergence of clinics providing unproven and unsafe “stem cell” therapies that promise to stop COVID-19 by strengthening the immune system or bettering total well being, says lead creator Laertis Ikonomou, PhD, affiliate professor of oral biology within the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine.

The article explores the unfavorable results that misinformation about cell therapies has on public well being, in addition to the roles that researchers, science communicators and regulatory companies ought to play in curbing the unfold of inaccurate data and in selling accountable, correct communication of analysis findings.

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“Efforts to rapidly develop therapeutic interventions should never occur at the expense of the ethical and scientific standards that are at the heart of responsible clinical research and innovation,” says Ikonomou.

“Scientists, regulators and policymakers must guard against the proliferation of poorly designed, underpowered and duplicative studies that are launched with undue haste because of the pandemic, but are unlikely to provide convincing, clinically meaningful safety and efficacy data,” says co-author Leigh Turner, PhD, professor of well being, society and conduct on the University of California, Irvine.

Other investigators embody Megan Munsie, PhD, professor of ethics, schooling and coverage in stem cell science on the University of Melbourne; and Aaron Levine, PhD, affiliate professor of public coverage at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Unsafe merchandise linked to unproven claims

Many of the research on attainable stem cell-based COVID-19 remedies are at an early stage of investigation and additional analysis on bigger pattern sizes is required, says Munsie. However, the findings from preliminary research are continuously exaggerated by way of press releases, social media and uncritical information media stories.

“Given the urgency of the ongoing pandemic, even the smallest morsel of COVID-19 science is often deemed newsworthy and rapidly enters a social media landscape where — regardless of its accuracy — it can be widely shared with a global audience,” says Levine.

Clinics promoting supposed stem cell remedies on a direct-to-consumer foundation generally use these findings and information stories to use the fears of weak sufferers by unethically promoting the unproven advantages of stem cell remedies to spice up the immune system, regenerate lung tissue and forestall transmission of COVID-19, says Turner.

There are stories of sufferers struggling bodily hurt – together with blindness and loss of life – from unproven stem cell therapies. Patients undergo financially as effectively, says Ikonomou, because the merchandise vary in value from a number of thousand to tens of 1000’s of {dollars}, and individuals are typically inspired to obtain the costly remedies each few months.

Patients led to imagine they’re protected in opposition to COVID-19 might resolve in opposition to vaccination, cease carrying masks, stop participating in bodily distancing, or in any other case keep away from behaviors supposed to advertise private security and public well being, says Turner.

They may change into much less doubtless to participate in carefully-developed medical trials performed by firms that observe moral requirements.

“The premature commercialization of cell-based therapeutics will inevitably harm the field of regenerative medicine, increase risks to patients and erode the public’s trust,” says Ikonomou.

Taking stronger motion

The United States Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission have issued warnings to quite a few offending clinics, but many firms proceed to make false claims.

The authors advocate that regulatory companies take into account implementing stronger measures to discourage the sale of unlicensed merchandise, resembling issuing fines or prison expenses, revoking medical licenses or forcing clinics to return cash to sufferers.

They additionally recommend that scientific {and professional} societies foyer regulatory companies to extend enforcement of legal guidelines and rules. Science communicators and journalists can fight misinformation by not participating in hyperbolic protection of analysis outcomes and conveying examine limitations, say the authors.

Source: Eurekalert

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