Unapproved Stem Cell 'Therapies' Being Sold Across U.S.

One-fifth claim to use stem cells from umbilical cord blood or amniotic or placental tissue
One-fifth claim to use stem cells from umbilical cord blood or amniotic or placental tissue

(HealthDay News) — Hundreds of clinics across the United States are marketing unapproved stem cell treatments for conditions ranging from aging skin to spinal cord injuries, according to a study published online June 30 in Cell Stem Cell.

In an online search, researchers found at least 570 clinics offering unapproved stem cell "therapies." They tended to be concentrated in a handful of states -- including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New York, and Texas -- but were scattered across many other states, too.

Leigh Turner, Ph.D., a bioethicist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota's Center for Bioethics in Minneapolis, said attention used to focus on "stem cell tourism" -- where people travel to countries such as China, India, and Mexico to get unproven treatments. "I think there's a misperception that everything here [in the U.S.] is regulated," Turner told HealthDay. "But these clinics are operating here, and on a relatively large scale."

Of the businesses Turner's team found, most marketed autologous therapies, usually using stem cells from people's body fat or bone marrow. But about one-fifth of the businesses claimed to use stem cells from umbilical cord blood or amniotic or placental tissue.

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