ICBioethics Blog 

How Can we Protect Individuals from being Duped by Fraudulent Stem Cell Clinics?

Written by: Aimee Zellers

Stem cell research can elicit many concerns, whether using embryonic stem cells for research is ethically permissible, how new stem cell technologies can improve the health of or cure patients with rare or chronic conditions, what is the appropriate way to conduct research with human participants and stem cell therapies and the list goes on. This blog post focuses on a disturbing trend of stem cell clinics ripping off their patients by playing on their hopes for recovery.

Stem cell research holds much promise, yet currently, only bone marrow transplants and a few rare treatments are actually approved for therapeutic use. Anything beyond these rare instances is nowhere close to being adapted for therapeutic treatment. However, a quick internet search will yield many results all claiming to provide cures to a variety of rare and chronic conditions. There has been a recent rise in stem cell clinics making such promises by providing “experimental” treatments. “Stem cell tourism” involves traveling to another country with the hopes of receiving therapeutic treatment; however, many of the medical procedures use have never been proven efficacious in reliable clinical trials.

It’s just short of fraud; treatments that may or may not work can cost up to and exceed $20,000. The practice exists, and many wealthy individuals seek these clinics in hopes of a cure. What is needed is oversight and regulation. However, doing this on an international scale is quite difficult, even through the United Nations, World Health Organization, or any other international agency.

The U.S. and E.U. have regulations in place but they cannot govern then entire world. Regulation is required for two primary reasons. First, is to keep current patients safe. Second, is to promote unhampered growth in stem cell research, this means that the research cannot be linked to fraud or tragedy.

Mitch GennusoComment