A few days ago I ran across an interesting article at Stanford Medicine Magazine entitled; "Peddling hope". The author Krista Conger wrote in detail about desperate and dying patients paying an exorbitant amount of money for injections of mysterious concoctions of "cells" which apparently cure just about every ailment known to man. These therapies are promoted by unscrupulous enterprising entrepreneurs through numerous websites online. The informative article sheds a light on the unfortunate patients who travel abroad to these facilities dubbed "stem cell clinics" searching courageously for a cure. The author writes;
“Harm is being done at a lot of levels,” agrees Loring. “But on the list of things that offend me, the false hope they offer to patients is at the top.”
But the hope is cleverly packaged. “These clinics never promise a patient will be healed,” says Sipp. “They’ll say things like, ‘most patients experience an improvement.’ And, when you’ve spent a lot of your own money, or money that was given to you by friends or relatives, the incentive to report that the treatment helped is very strong. There’s a lot of room for the placebo effect.”
“It’s a worldwide industry,” says Sipp, who estimates there are about 300 clinics that offer what they claim to be stem-cell-based treatments for everything from autism to diabetes, from ALS to cancer. “And recently we’ve been seeing a growing complement of places in the United States that either refer people to nearby international clinics in Mexico or the Dominican Republic for the treatment, or even perform procedures domestically.”
By tracking the number of patients some of the bigger clinics state they have treated, Sipp has concluded that tens of thousands of people may have received unproven stem cell treatments worldwide during the past decade, which indicates a market size approaching $1 billion.
Please do read the full article here.
In Germany a clinic offering experimental stem cell injections was shut down in August 2010 because of the death of an 18-month-old boy after a brain injection. The clinic "XCell" also has a clinic in Dusseldorf and one in Cologne,Germany although both clinics are now closed. Here is the article;
Europe's largest stem cell clinic, which is at the centre of a scandal over the death of a baby given an injection into the brain, has been shut down.
08 May 2011
The closure of the XCell-Center in Dusseldorf follows an undercover investigation by The Sunday Telegraph into its controversial practices, which attracted hundreds of patients from the UK. The clinic charged patients up to £20,000 for stem cell injections into the back and brain despite a lack of scientific proof that the treatments actually worked.
Experts in stem cell research had accused the clinic of preying on vulnerable patients, desperately seeking a cure for such illnesses and diseases as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, autism, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, heart disease, diabetes and spinal cord injuries.
While most other European countries - as well as the US, Canada and Australia - have banned stem cell treatments unless shown to be safe and effective, XCell had exploited a loophole in German law allowing it to charge for the experimental procedures.
But last week, the clinic suddenly announced it had ceased carrying out operations due to what it described as legal changes in Germany. In a posting on its website, XCell said last week: "Due to a new development in German law, stem cell therapy is currently not possible to perform at the XCell-Center. Regretfully for this reason, we must cancel your appointment until further notice. We will notify you for further updates about the matter."...full story here.
This "60 Minutes" show previewed in 2010, I remember watching the it with my friend, she passed from ALS six months after being diagnosed. You can view part two of the video here.
21st Century Snake Oil, Part 1
Sean Morrison, director of the U-M Center for Stem Cell Biology
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Patients should be wary of claims made by the operators of stem cell clinics outside the United States who offer unproven and potentially dangerous disease treatments, University of Michigan researcher Sean Morrison said during a segment of the CBS program “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night.
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