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Stem cell scientists warn against fraudulent treatments

A segment today on NPR's "Morning Edition" discusses researchers' concerns about the proliferation of clinics that offer fraudulent stem cell "therapies" to desperate patients. On the program, Stanford stem cell expert Irving Weissman, MD, spoke about the growing trend of patients traveling overseas - and paying large sums - in the hope of finding a "miracle" cure:

Apparently a lot of people are falling for unproven stem cell treatments. Another leading researcher, Dr. Irving Weissman of Stanford, says just how many hit him when he gave a public lecture on stem cells in his hometown of Great Falls, Montana.

"At the end of my talk, two people, who happened to be farmers, came up to me," Weissman says. "One had gone with his wife to a clinic in Mexico operated through San Diego. Another went to another out-of-the-country clinic. One paid $50,000 and the other paid $85,000 for treatments for untreatable genetic conditions..."

...Weissman says the tantalizing promise of stem cells comes along at a time when opportunists can use the Internet "as a free place to make claims, make advertising, make money."

An audio version of the story is available on the "Morning Edition" page.

Previously: The cruelty of fraudulent stem cell therapy, International Cellular Medicine Society evaluates overseas stem cell clinics, International stem cell group provides website for patients seeking stem cell treatments, and Beware: Stem cell clinics offering "miracle" cures

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