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Stem Cells Carry Hope for Lupus


3 Star

Stem Cells Carry Hope for Lupus

Our Review Summary

A first glance may suggest that this is a controversial topic because the piece is entitled “Stem Cells Carry Hope for Lupus.” However, these are stem cells derived from the patient’s own bone marrow and are thus not fodder for the embryonic stem cell debate. This article reports on the use of a common cancer therapy, hemapoetic stem cell transplantation (HSTC) in the treatment of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who are not responding to standard treatment. While this preliminary study will be followed by a larger, randomized clinical trial, the current results reported are quite hopeful for those with this autoimmune disease. Weaknesses in the story included a lack of information about the number of people who do not respond to standard therapy, a lack of information on side effects and costs of the treatment, and the failure to include input from another, independent source.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The costs for HSCT was not mentioned.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

No estimate for the percentage of patients who

did not respond to standard treatment and who would be expected to die within the time frame of the study. (However – and

this is no excuse for the journalist – this information was not in the original research reported on either.)

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The side effects of the

treatment were not mentioned

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The article explained that the study it reported on was small and that the results were

preliminary and did not contain a control group for comparison.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


Presented an estimate for the number

of people affected by lupus (1.5 million in the U.S.) as well as an estimate (5-10%) for the proportion of patients who did

not respond to standard treatment.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

Only a quote from the first author of the study was included. No

independent second source.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

Article mentioned that

lupus patients are usually treated with immunosuppressive drugs and that for 5-10% of patients, these drugs are ineffective.

While the original article was clear in presenting that HSCT was used as a treatment for this population for whom the

standard approach was no longer effective, this was not explicit in the article.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The results presented are acknowledged to be preliminary, with the next step being a second, larger trial.

This suggests that use of HSCT for treatment of lupus is not likely to be widely available for some time.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


This article reported on

using nonmyeloablatic hemapoetic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) to treat patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

who not responding to the standard therapy. This medical therapy is currently in use as a means of treating several kinds of


Total Score: 4 of 9 Satisfactory


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