The clinics are promoting and performing risky stem cell treatments that are not backed up or approved by scientific research.
Hundreds of clinics across the U.S. are promoting and performing unapproved stem cell treatments according to a recently published study.
Researchers scoured the internet for clinics offering the stem cell therapies which claim to help with conditions such as Alzheimer’s, osteoarthritis, injured spinal cords and more commonly for cosmetic enhancements. Although it’s being scientifically researched, stem cell treatment is only in its infancy and is not approved by scientists or health care staff.
At least 351 companies owning 570 clinics are currently offering these treatments to the public with a high amount of them located in Florida, New York, California, Arizona, Colorado and Texas although they were found all over the U.S. They are typically found in places like Mexico, China and India where unregulated stem cell treatment offers are more common, according to a report by The Washington Post.
“In almost every state now, people can go locally to get stem cell ‘treatments.’ That’s different from what we typically think about when we think of stem cell tourism,” said study author and stem cell scientist Paul Knoepfler from the University of California at Davis School of Medicine.
Not only is stem cell therapy still experimental, it carries a high risk with stem cells potentially forming into tumors and traveling to places in the body where they aren’t meant to be causing huge problems. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is cracking down on these clinics but the study has highlighted a much bigger problem than first thought. They say these clinics are “preying on vulnerable people” and believe they are illegally promoting and performing these treatments without regulated guidelines.
Co-author of the study, Leigh Turner from University of Minnesota’s Center for Bioethics, says they themselves aren’t accusing the clinics of practising illegally but the FDA needs to step up and regulate these clinics more effectively.
“There is an obvious need for the FDA, FTC (Federal Trade Commission), state medical boards and other regulatory bodies to play a more effective role in regulating the marketplace for stem cell interventions.”
The study was published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.