Stem cell therapies: why they’re expensive, unproven and often dangerous

Posted 17 July 2023

Associate Professor, Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, University of Reading

The Conversation

Rogue clinics selling stem cell therapies are popping up everywhere. There are thousands of them around the world, and they claim to be able to cure everything from autism to cerebral palsy.

The highest concentration of stem cell therapy clinics is in the US, Mexico, India and China. And people are travelling far and wide to get these treatments, leading to a phenomenon known as stem cell tourism.

Despite warnings from scientiststhe media and regulators that these treatments are untested and potentially dangerous, desperate people are forking out thousands of pounds to essentially be guinea pigs for these unproven treatments.

In the US, several patients lost their sight after receiving stem-cell treatment for degenerative eye conditions. The patients, who were treated at an unregulated stem-cell therapy clinic … Read the rest

Google will ban ads for unproven or experimental medical techniques

Posted 09 September 2019

Google is revising its healthcare and medicines policy to ban advertising for unproven or experimental medical techniques such as most stem cell therapy, cellular (non-stem) therapy, and gene therapy. The policy will prohibit ads selling treatments that: (a) have no established biomedical or scientific basis, or (b) are rooted in basic scientific findings and preliminary clinical experience, but currently have insufficient formal clinical testing to justify widespread clinical use.
Reference: A new policy on advertising for speculative and experimental medical treatments. Google, Sept 6, 2019

The ban reportedly will take effect in October.
Reference: Wan W. McGinley L. New Google policy bars ads for unproven stem cell therapies. Washington Post, Sept 6, 2019

MIT Technology Review has criticized Google for years of brazenly profiting from health-care scams, noting:

Ads from stem-cell clinics have been a fixture of Google’s search results for years, funneling desperate Read the rest

Miracle cures or modern quackery? Stem cell clinics multiply, with heartbreaking results

Posted 30 April 2018

Miracle cures or modern quackery? Stem cell clinics multiply, with heartbreaking results for some patients.

by Laurie McGinley and William Wan

Washington Post  April 29 

Doris Tyler lay on the examining table as the doctor stuck a long, thin tube into her belly. The doctor pulled back a plunger, and the syringe quickly filled with yellow blobs tinged with pink.

“Look at that beautiful fat coming out. Liquid gold!” one of the clinic’s staff exclaimed in a video of the procedure provided to The Washington Post.

Hidden in that fat were stem cells with the amazing power to heal, the Stem Cell Center of Georgia had told Tyler. The clinic is one of hundreds that have popped up across the country, many offering treatments for conditions from Parkinson’s disease to autism to multiple sclerosis.

Federal regulators have not approved any of their treatments, and critics call Read the rest

Finally, FDA Is Cracking Down on Highly Dangerous ‘Treatments’ From Stem Cell Clinics

Posted 30 August 2017

Stem cells are amazing. They hold the potential to repair almost any part of the body, shifting into different cell types on demand. But that doesn’t mean you can trust all the treatment pitches out there with “stem cells” in the description – often these therapies have not been tested, and do more harm than good.

Now the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally announced it will make a concerted effort to stamp out unproven stem cell remedies that haven’t been properly vetted and may even be dangerous to patients.

Continue reading

Read also the FDA Press release

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‘Stem cell snake oil’ clinics

‘Stem cell snake oil’ clinics could put patients in danger, report[1] says

Study finds that at least 350 companies are marketing unapproved stem cell ‘treatments’ aimed at everything from facelifts to Alzheimers and Parkinson’s

The US has become a booming market for unauthorized stem cell “treatments” for everything from breast enhancements to Alzheimer’s disease, according to the authors of a new report that warns of dangers to patients from such “stem cell snake oil” pitches.

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Deceptive marketing of Stem Enhance / StemEnhance

Posted 04 February 2015

FDA Advisory No. 2013-025

The Food and Drug Administration has monitored the product STEM ENHANCETM that is being promoted and sold on-line and dubiously labeled as a Dietary Supplement that Supports the Natural Release of Adult Stem Cells, manufactured by STEMTech Health Sciences. Inc. of Klamath Falls, Oregon, USA. This product is not registered by the FDA (

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StemEnhance II

Posted 02 July 2010

 StemEnhance is a product made from “pond scum” (Aphanizomenon flos-aquae) harvested from Lake Klamath and sold as “concentrated” powder in capsule form. This American product was released into the South African market during 2008. It claims to “release the power of your body’s adult stem cells to promote wellness” and it “‘wakes’ up your body’s stem cells and puts them to work”.


As with any other product, I would ask:

  • Is there any proof that this product has any therapeutic effect?
  • Is this product safe?

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Stem cell charlatans

Posted 25 June 2010

Researchers try to protect patients from stem cell charlatans

The International Society for Stem Cell Research has launched a patient education website “to smoke out the charlatans” who prey upon desperately ill people and their families, said Irving Weissman. 

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