Call for crackdown on stem cell quacks in China, India
Sep 19th, 2008 | By Sindh Today | Category: Health

Bangalore, Sep 19 (IANS) An international effort is on to protect desperate patients from becoming victims of costly and unproven stem cell ‘therapies’ being marketed in several countries, including India and China.

Alarmed by a rise in ’stem-cell tourism’ driven by websites and the internet, a task force of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) with its headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois (US), has issued a set of guidelines.

While researchers worldwide are investigating stem-cell therapies for many diseases, the only proven therapies right now are transplants of bone marrow stem cells to reconstitute the blood, treat blood disorders such as leukaemia and immune deficiencies.

‘All other medical procedures involving stem cells are only experimental’ and should not be promoted as cures, the ISSCR says.

But a team led by Timothy Caulfield at the University of Alberta’s Health Law Institute in Canada surveyed 32 websites offering treatments for conditions ranging from Parkinson’s disease, stroke and paralysis, spinal cord injuries and cancer to anti-ageing treatments.

The survey found that only one site described its procedure as experimental and 26 sites advertised it as being ‘routine’.

The websites, many of which advertise clinics in China, India, Mexico and the Ukraine, actually rely on patient testimonials, rather than peer-reviewed clinical studies, as proof that their therapies are safe and effective, the survey found.