Stem cells previously only had meaning to scientists and referred to cells that could make copies of themselves as well as turn into different types of mature cells.
The only stem cell therapy approved by the FDA is bone marrow transplants as it is deemed safe and effective. The stem cells are transferred to people to try and save their lives from leukemia. The patient's own cancerous cells are killed off and is replaced with stem cells to produce the all the other types of cells found in the body.
In 2004 investments like $3 billion for stem cell research in California and other efforts around the world have added stem cell research to their vocabulary. The public has increased their expectations for miraculous cures originating from stem cells. A bidding war is always on the rise for cures from scientists for stubborn diseases.
In this industry, there are many opportunists who would take advantage of people who don’t know any better with fake medicines, dubious credentials and testimonials of paid actors to up-sell the product for more buying enthusiasm. Clinics claiming to have experience and knowledge in stem cell research have also popped up and often with out licensed physicians running the treatments.
Weak Regulatory Environment
Stem cell clinic opens in countries where the laws were less strict such as China, the Bahamas, Mexico and European countries. The countries allowed this types of clinics to run and in 2011, in Germany, a large clinic was shut down when an 18-month old boy died after receiving an injection of cells in the brain. The director of the clinic was not prosecuted but was soon able to open another client in Beirut, Lebanon.
The franchise has spread across the US, and people who live in certain cities would have noticed advertisements and billboards with treatments available. These type of clients are not deemed safe and effective but prays on the needs of desperate people looking cures.
Web sites are glowing with mission’s statements but do have specifics available for people to view. Treatments are advertised as non-invasive as well as preferable to surgery with the emphasis on the patient's own cells being used to treat their illness.
The cells used by these clients are usually fat tissue removed through liposuction or bone marrow cells. These are not capable of turning cells into any other cells that are damaged by Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, ALS, COPD, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, autism, or brain injury. Cells taken from fat cells do not survive beyond a few hours in the bloodstream and have no medical benefit.
There is no scientific basis for the treatments, so the clinic usually uses patient testimonials and ratings displaying the illusion there are medical benefits. Advertising stating that the patients are satisfied, that they trust the organization and that they would recommend the treatment to others. No science has been used in this process and these clinical milestones and outcomes are not verifiable.