stem cell tourism

Stem cell research: promise, progress and hype

The melting pot of expectations, hope, responsibility, idealism and realism in the field of stem cell research were the subject of a panel discussion for media representatives at the recent ISSCR Conference in Stockholm titled “Stem cell research: promise, progress and hype".

Stem cell tourism: selling hope through unproven stem cell treatments - lessons from the X-Cell Center controversy

In recent years there has been a growing interest in so-called stem cell ‘tourism’ - where a person (often companied by their carer/family) travels to another country for a purported stem cell treatment that is not available in their home country. Many advertised treatments are clinically unproven, with little or no evidence for their safety and efficacy in specific conditions.

Managing the potential and pitfalls of emerging stem cell therapies

While blood stem cells have been used clinically for over 40 years, it was the discovery of human embryonic stem cells in 1998, that has built expectations for people affected by a multitude of degenerative, chronic and fatal diseases with no cures or effective treatments. The speed with which therapies were expected to roll out of the lab did not take into consideration the complete lack of infrastructure required to make it happen, for many turning potential into frustration.

Centre for Bionetworking organises international conference on ‘Global life science and bionetworking’

On November 11th and 12th, stem cell scientists, clinicians and social scientists from around the world gathered at the University of Sussex to discuss and debate current practices around stem cell research and therapy in an international conference organised by the Centre for Bionetworking, Department of Anthropology. Specifically, delegates sought to answer the central question of the conference: What is there between bona fide and rogue stem cell therapy?

Nature commentaries tackle current issues in regulation of stem cell therapies

Two recent opinion pieces in Nature highlight important social, ethical and regulatory issues around stem cell research. 

ISSCR and Institute of Medicine Workshop Recap: Unregulated Stem Cell-based Treatments

The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) has for some years been a voice in the debate over unregulated stem cell treatments, advocating for careful oversight but cognizant of the plight of patients facing critical diseases and their need for hope.

Last week, the ISSCR, along with the Institute of Medicine of the USA, hosted a workshop to explore issues faced in the clinical application of stem cell treatments, in particular, the practice of unproven stem cell therapies. The meeting brought together representatives from the research and medical communities, national scientific and medical academies, regulatory advisors, consumer protection and patient advocacy groups.

Interview with Doug Sipp, Manager at RIKEN CDB, Kobe, Japan

In June 2011, Danielle Nicholson met up with Doug Sipp from the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB), Kobe, Japan at the International Society for Stem Cell Research 9th Annual Meeting in Stem Cell City, a.k.a. Toronto, Canada.

Tackling stem cell tourism: a comment by Matthew D. Griffin

Stem cell therapy is moving steadily toward worldwide clinical application for a broad range of inherited and acquired diseases. In countries where biomedical research progress is both widely publicised and tightly regulated, it is understandable for those who stand to benefit from the regenerative potential of stem cell therapies to seek more rapid access to treatments. This situation is conducive to practitioners operating under lax regulatory conditions offering treatment to patients travelling from overseas. Indeed, there is good evidence that stem cell therapies are an important driver of medical tourism and good reason to believe that some patients who travel for stem cell therapy are receiving ineffective or harmful interventions.

Tackling stem cell tourism: a comment by Robin Lovell-Badge

Rogue clinics are the scourge of the serious enterprise of stem cell research and its application. They are a risk to patients and to a respectable field of scientific and clinical endeavour with very laudable aims. Therefore rational stem cell scientists will be keen to promote any realistic measure to deal with them. Many are taking action by working to produce agreed guidelines for best practice, and helping to educate regulators and members of the public. In an article published in EMBO Reports, Master and Resnik [1] argue that stem cell scientists should do more to tackle these rogue clinics by controlling access to materials and methods through documents called Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs). You can read a short summary of their proposal in our introduction. I do not think this particular strategy is useful for several reasons.

Should scientists do more to tackle stem cell tourism?

(C) Uta Mackensen / EMBO reports(C) Uta Mackensen / EMBO reportsMany clinics offering unproven stem cell therapies have appeared in recent years. What can we do to prevent exploitation of patients made vulnerable by their desperation for a cure? Efforts so far have often focused on informing patients of the risks, or enhancing regulation of stem cell research or therapy.  An article published today in the journal EMBO Reports argues that another strategy is needed; and stem cell scientists have a key role to play.

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