A recent early stage trial demonstrated that first generation autologous stem cell transplants should be beneficial even if provided long after a serious damage has occurred. Large numbers of transplanted stem cells, grown over a period of weeks from a patient's own cells, can spur the body to heal injuries that would normally linger:
Researchers have shown for the first time that stem cells injected into enlarged hearts reduced heart size, reduced scar tissue and improved function to injured heart areas ... while this research is in the early stages, the findings are promising for the more than five million Americans who have enlarged hearts due to damage sustained from heart attacks. These patients can suffer premature death, have major disability and experience frequent hospitalizations. Options for treatment are limited to lifelong medications and major medical interventions, such as heart transplantation
Using catheters, researchers injected stem cells derived from the patient's own bone marrow into the hearts of eight men (average age 57) with chronically enlarged, low-functioning hearts.
"The injections first improved function in the damaged area of the heart and then led to a reduction in the size of the heart. This was associated with a reduction in scar size. The effects lasted for a year after the injections, which was the full duration of the study,"
"This therapy improved even old cardiac injuries. [Some] of the patients had damage to their hearts from heart attacks as long as 11 years before treatment."
This is generally good news for people who presently bear injuries and damage - or expect to suffer damage in the years between now and when stem cell medicine is in its prime. The most plausible future outcome looks to be that even the early stage and comparatively crude transplant therapies will provide significant benefits above and beyond any present form of medicine.
Of course, they would arrive far more rapidly and be far less costly in a world absent the FDA - but there is always medical tourism. A range of stem cell therapies that are presently forbidden from commercial development in the US have been available for several years elsewhere in the world:
The FDA forbids the development of new medical technologies long past the point at which any sane person would consider them a good risk, and in the process makes these technologies vastly more expensive. Medical tourism is a sane response to heavy-handed and unaccountable government employees: "Gregg Victor is one of the 1.5 million Americans who traveled abroad to get medical treatments last year. ... More than a few were pursuing new stem-cell-based treatments unavailable in the States ... 'I am not waiting for the FDA to rule to get treatments,' says Gregg Victor, who chose her clinic in Germany after spending a year and a half looking into stem cell treatments available all over the world. ... Jordan happened upon TheraVitae, a Bangkok-headquartered biotechnology company that markets 'VesCell stem cell treatments' via licensing agreements with four clinics in Thailand ... Thai doctors injected 25 million of his own stem cells into Jordan's heart. Twenty thousand miles, 22 days, a cardiac arrest and $43,000 later, he came home to his wife with an ejection fraction between 30% and 35%. Even Jordan's doctor had to admit he was happy with the results." Results are mixed, much as you'd expect. Caveat emptor, and do your research - but a great many people are materially benefiting from technologies still forbidden by their own governments.