Here are some words of wisdom from Prof. Alta Charo, law and bioethics professor from University of Wisconsin-Madison, on the prevalence of scams in stem cell tourism.
The evidence for therapeutic use of stem cells is very limited, except for bone marrow stem cells, but patients all over the world are convinced stem cells will cure their disease.
While there are some very promising results in the early clinical trials for stem cell therapies using embryonic and other kinds of stem cells, the ‘treatments’ being advertised by these clinics are dubious, mostly ineffective, and sometimes positively harmful.
Patients are being hoodwinked, but there are dilemmas about tackling (the ‘treatments’) at regulatory or political levels.
If you are a family or friend of a patient who is considering stem cell treatment, you should be vigilant and pay attention to the red flags and warning signs (related: Stem Cell Tourism Risks and Warning Signs) so as to help prevent your family/friend from falling for the false promises of these scammy clinics.
More from Professor Charo:
Most people have no reason to pay attention, and those who are paying attention are sick, so they are focused on trying anything. If it does not work, they are already in a bad position with plenty to think about.
Stem cells have become a magic word. Often new areas of science get that reputation; in 19th century medical devices, everything with electricity or magnetism was magic. Today it’s stem cells and nanotechnology. It is time to lose the hype without losing the hope.
Here’s a video from 2009 featuring Professor Charo and fellow UW-M Prof. Clive Svendsen talking about the science and ethics of stem cell therapy:
Stem Cell Tourism Risks, Precautions, and Warning Signs