May 29, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Balancing hope and danger with dubious stem cell treatments: a report from Canada

I’m a stem cell researcher and I’m very excited about the potential of stem cell therapies, but my excitement is mostly directed to the future.

I’m also a cancer survivor and I know what it is like to get a grave diagnosis and how important hope is and sometimes patients and their families need hope now, not in the future.

There are literally millions of people just in the U.S. and Canada who are basically told by doctors that there is nothing they can do for them with conventional medicine. Often times these patients and families understandably look elsewhere for help and some of the time this involves stem cell treatments.

We saw recently an expose on 60 Minutes about doctors and pseudo-doctors offering stem cell treatments that are not approved by regulatory agencies like the FDA.

Now there was an excellent segment of TV journalism from the Canadian news show 16×9 on stem cells and stem cell tourism. This is quite interesting and very professional. I highly recommend it.

What everyone needs to keep in mind is that these dubious stem cell treatments are most often offered by people who simply want to take other people’s money rather than help them. That is their priority.

For all you know they might inject you with cells that are dangerous or they might inject you with nothing or as the patient said on the 16×9 show, it could be Gatorade. What it almost certainly is not going to be is something that can help you.