October 29, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Stem cell tourism disaster coming: my case for caution

Stem Cell Tourism is a blanket term now used to refer to patients receiving non-FDA approved stem cell treatments either by traveling here within the U.S. or more often outside the U.S. Clinics are sprouting up all over the world offering treatments based on stem cells. The science behind these is often non-existent. Most stem cell scientists are very worried about this situation.

stem cell tourism tumor
A patient who engaged in stem cell tourism developed a dangerous spinal tumor, show in an MRI.

But as both a stem cell scientist and also a cancer survivor, I am very sensitive to the situation of patients and families.

There are millions of people for whom conventional medicine has little if anything to offer. Particularly in the cases of severe, acute and potentially fatal diseases, when patients and family members hear the mantra of stem cell therapies becoming realities in 5-10 years or longer, waiting does not seem like an option. Stem cell tourism becomes more attractive.

So it is only understandable and logical that people in desperate situations look for other, immediately available options, but I make the case to you to err on the side of caution. The motto of medicine is “first, do no harm”. As bad as your current situation might be, it could get worse by going to one of these clinics. Getting a non-approved stem cell treatment is very unlikely to make it better and could cost you or your loved one their life.

I write this article especially to all of you considering going to a non-FDA approved facility to get a stem cell treatment for yourself or a loved one, perhaps even your child.

My advice–talk to your own personal physician, talk to stem cell experts here in the U.S., and consider the potential risks very seriously.

As a stem cell scientist, I have no vested interest in telling you not to go to these clinics. I have no investments in any stem cell-related companies or stocks that might compete with these companies.

I want stem cell medicine, regenerative medicine, to succeed and help people.

The reason I am writing this is that I am very worried that you are only getting one side of the story and you will not only lose your money, but also could get seriously injured.

In contrast to me, the people running the stem cell clinics have a very strong interest in convincing you to get the treatments.

They want your money.

Think about it.

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