Plant Stem Cells

The Ugly of Stem Cell Tourism

When we launched our creams containing apple stem cells, we got hell from MOH. And we wondered why because there were no ethical issues like with animal stem cells (ours were from apples) or false claims (like in stem cell treatments to cure cancers or chronic illnesses).

On retrospect we should have used another name for the creams. They are good creams but they ended up getting mixed up with a whole bunch of quasi-medical magic-promising treatments that also used the word “stem cells”. And of course that got me into a whole lot of explaining with MOH.

Then we realized later that there is a whole industry of stem cell tourism which had sprung up from the very hype of stem cells. The hype that stem cells can treat a whole host of illnesses because they can divide into potentially any other cell in the body. And the hype on which many people in their most desperate of times turn to for a last ditch hope.

And it turns out, some among us in the medical profession have capitalized on these people and provide unproven cures with stem cells often taken by unethical means.The article below calls them clinical charlatans.

excerpts from The Scientist

“As with many new areas of technological advancements, stem cell research has received its fair share of hype. Though much of the excitement is warranted, and the potential of stem cells promising, many have used that hype for their own monetary gain. Some market beauty products containing the rejuvenation powers of stem cells and vitamins that claim to boost adult stem cell function while others have established stem cell clinics offering treatments for major diseases and injuries. Although creams and vitamins may (hopefully) be relatively benign, the same is not true for stem cell treatments. Young and elderly patients have died from receiving illegitimate stem cell treatments; others have developed tumors following stem cell transplantations.

In some cases, physicians’ medical licenses have been revoked and investigations of misconduct have been pursued, but the number of fraudulent clinics are vast and growing, offering stem cell treatments for several debilitating and incurable ailments, including Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and cancer. These clinical charlatans play on the hopes of patients and families for whom traditional therapies have failed, and on the hype surrounding stem cell research, touting the latest miracle cure. Many commentators claim that international regulations or guidelines, and education on stem cell tourism, would be effective ways to stop patients from traveling abroad to receive expensive, unproven, and potentially harmful therapies. But perhaps more can be done. Published recently in EMBO Reports, we put forward a new strategy to combat stem cell tourism—one that actively involves scientists.”