Beware of stem cell scams - Metro US

Beware of stem cell scams

Don’t be fooled by stem cell scams. Researchers from the department of public health sciences at the University of Calgary in Alberta warn that the Internet is being used to sell bogus stem cell therapies.

Stem cell therapy is still in its infancy, and isn’t ready for common use. Going to a private clinic for stem cell therapy may be risky, they report.

The Internet is a very powerful tool to sell health remedies. Eight million Americans search for health information each day on the Internet, according to the paper. The researchers did a Google search and found 19 sites that advertise they can help patients who have serious diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, stroke, Alzheimer’s or heart disease. They promote their treatments as safe, effective and ready for routine use. But published clinical evidence is scarce.

Authors say that patients are taking risks and may be wasting quite a lot of money. The average treatment is $21,500, not including travel and accommodation. These clinics typically take stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow, blood or fat. Or they use stem cells from placentas or aborted fetuses. They infuse these cells into the cerebrospinal fluid or blood. But there’s little evidence to say they’ve actually isolated stem cells, or that the treatments are effective.

The paper appeared in the December issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell.

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