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Bogus Stem Cell Therapies Sold on Internet
Date:12/3/2008

New guidelines are aimed at combating less responsible uses, claims, experts say

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Expensive, sham stem cell therapies are being hawked directly to desperate patients over the Internet, experts say.

In response, the leading organization of stem cell scientists on Wednesday issued guidelines to steer research in the field toward responsible, practical uses.

"Stem cell research is progressing so rapidly and has sparked a lot of interest in translational research [including] among patients in hopes for therapies," said Insoo Hyun, lead author of the paper outlining the guidelines and an associate professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland.

"At the same time," he said, "legitimate science is speeding ahead and getting to the point where there needed to be more of a road map to take the basic knowledge to clinical applications."

Although Hyun had not heard of patients actually been harmed by so-called stem cell therapies, he said he feared that "it's only a matter of time."

The new guidelines appear in the December issue of Cell Stem Cell.

Experts hailed the move.

"We clearly need guidelines for around the world to make sure that appropriate research is done before clinical work is undertaken in patients," said Paul Sanberg, distinguished professor of neurosurgery and director of the University of South Florida Center for Aging and Brain Repair in Tampa. "We see desperate patients all the time and want to make sure that any therapies they take come from responsible research groups."

In an accompanying commentary, Canadian researchers analyzed 19 Web sites unearthed by a regular Google search, all of which peddled expensive stem cell therapies for everything from stroke to allergies.

Different clinics in China (Beike Biotech), the Ukraine (ACT) and elsewhere claim to have
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