NOTE TO READERS: When this project lost substantial funding at the end of 2018, I lost the ability to continue publishing criteria-driven news story reviews and PR news release reviews - once the bread-and-butter of the site going back to 2006. The 3,200 archived reviews, while still educational, are getting old and difficult for me to technically maintain on the back end of the website. So I am announcing that I plan to remove these reviews from the site by April 1, 2021. The blog and the toolkit - two of the most popular features on the site - will remain. If you wish to peruse the reviews before they disappear, please do so by the end of March 2021. After that date you may still be able to access them via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine - https://archive.org/web/.
Read Original Story

Stem cells offer hope for diabetics

Rating

4 Star

Stem cells offer hope for diabetics

Our Review Summary

The story describes the use of adult stem cells to help control type 1 diabetes.   The story provides absolute benefits (with some cautionary statements that these are preliminary) found in this small trial in 15 patients.  However, the story gives no information about what type of study these results are based on (randomized trial or other), and while it does point out some of the study limitations, like study size and length of follow-up, it isn't entirely clear what this should mean to viewers.  The story also does not mention any harms of the new treatment, and given that it is described as "gentle chemotherapy," it's hard to believe there would be no side effects or harms.  And with the short follow-up, it isn't clear what long-term harms this may have.  

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story doesn't mention costs of this new treatment.

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

Satisfactory

The story does quantify benefits, e.g. 13 out of 15 patients were able to stop taking insulin.  And even though these results look promising at first glance, the story provides cautionary statements that these are just preliminary results. 

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention any harms of the new treatment whatsover, including no mention of how serious these harms were or how frequently they occurred.  

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not state what the evidence is for the findings, e.g. a randomized trial or something else.  The story does discuss some limitations, such as the small number of people in the study and the relatively short follow-up length.   But if a network is going to report on a trial in only 15 patients, it should provide a better sense of the quality of the evidence.  

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story points out the estimated number of people with this type of diabetes (type 1) and contrasts that with how many people have type 2 (significantly more), giving viewers a sense that this treatment may not help the majority of people with diabetes.   

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

Satisfactory

The story quotes two experts – one of whom was apparently not involved in the study.   

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The current standard therapy for type 1 diabetics is briefly discussed, e.g. daily insulin injections. 

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

Satisfactory

The story tells readers that the new treatment is still experimental and this treatment appears to have been used for the first time in a recent research study.  One physician is quoted saying the idea "is not ready for prime time" so viewers should know they can not turn to their local doctor to have this treatment. 

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story mentions this is the first time this treatment (adult stem cells) has been used to control type 1 diabetes (although the story states adult stem cells have been used to treat leukemia). 

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

Since the story quoted two expert sources – and one of them was apparently not involved in the research – it is safe to assume the story did not rely solely or largely on a news release. 

Total Score: 7 of 10 Satisfactory

Comments

Please note, comments are no longer published through this website. All previously made comments are still archived and available for viewing through select posts.