Tracking the rise of stem cell tourism.
Ryan, Kirsten A.
Sanders, Amanda N.
Wang, Dong D.
Levine, Aaron D.
Regenerative Medicine 2010 January; 5(1): 27-33
AIMS: Driven by hype surrounding stem cell research, a number of clinics around the world currently offer 'stem cell therapies' to patients. These unproven interventions have attracted policy interest owing to the risks they may pose to patients and to the progress of legitimate translational stem cell research, yet remarkably little data exists about the patients who undergo these unproven therapies or their experiences. We sought to characterize this patient population. MATERIALS & METHODS: We developed a comprehensive data set of blogs written by patients (or their caretakers) about their experiences with unproven stem cell therapies. RESULTS & CONCLUSIONS: Analyzing these data suggests that unproven stem cell therapies are increasing rapidly in popularity and are attracting a wide range of patients--both young and old and with a diverse collection of medical conditions. These results should help clinicians advise individual patients and help policymakers devise strategies to mitigate the risks these treatments pose.
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