- We've neglected this Bayblab feature for some time now, but Kenny G (lab guru, not saxophonist) gave us a tip on this story.
Christian Drapeau (M.Sc) is the chief science officer and co-holder of the US patent for StemEnhance, a proprietary blue-green algae (Aphanizomenon flos-aquae) extract used to 'mobilize stem cells'. The extract contains a "novel L-selectin ligand" that promotes the release of CD34+ stem cells from bone marrow as well as a polysaccharaide-enriched mystery extract called Migratose(tm) that "MAY support the migration of stem cells out of the blood into tissues" (emphasis mine).
Nevermind the existing concerns about taking non-Spirulina blue-green algae extracts - how does the science look? Mr. Drapeau was an author on a paper describing the CD34+ mobilization (I'll admit that puts him ahead of many of the other of the quacks we discuss who don't submit data for peer review). Let's take a look at one figure that shows an increase of circulating CD34+ lymphocytes:
OK, the extract treatment shows an increase CD34+ cells. A whopping increase from 0.062% to 0.085% (which of course is billed as a 30% increase). Now take a look at the placebo treatment. No increase, just as they claim, but the initial percentage of circulating CD34+ cells is already as high as AFTER StemEnhance treatment. Can anything meaningful be taken from this result? If you continue to read the paper, you'll find that the increase is quite transient, peaking after 60 minutes but lasting no more than 2 hours and that the effect in one person on 16 different test days can vary wildly (from a 300% increase in CD34+ to a 4% decrease).
The product that this data is meant to support is StemEnhance, a miracle stem cell mobilizer that improves healing and maintains proper tissue and organ functioning in your body. A single, 30-serving (60 tablet) bottle costs $60 with a recommended dose of 2 capsules once or twice a day. But before shelling out up to $120 a month, consider the following:
1)Does StemEnhance actually mobilize stem cells as it claims? The only published data is poor at best, as discussed above.
2)Is there any scientific evidence that 'stem cell mobilization' offers any health benefit? Like most quackery, StemEnhance relies on anecdotal evidence and testamonials to support their claims.
3)Is there any evidence that IF stem cell mobilization offers a health benefit, the increase in circulating CD34+ claimed by StemEnhance is biologically relevant? 30% may seem like a lot, but what does that mean in absolute numbers? Is that 1000 cells? 100? Is that enough to make a difference?
4)What are potential long term or other potential outcomes of increased circulating stem cells? A recent paper discussed at Journal Club talks about bone marrow stem cells localizing to breast cancers and increase metastatic potential.
Don't just listen to me, though. Other StemEnhance criticism can be found at MLM watch and The Scientist.
On top of the dubious product claims, StemEnhance has another hallmark of potential scams: a multi-level marketing scheme. That's right, you too can distribute StemEnhance and become a block in the pyramid upon whose back others will profit. But don't just take StemEnhance to improve your OWN health, you can buy StemPets and StemEquine and have your animal friends reap the benefits as well. Me? I think I'll buy some for my duck. Quack, quack, quack.