All over the world there are desperate patients looking for institutions that promise to heal them with stem cells. But the treatments that are promised must be controlled and regulated, said two scholars in Science magazine. Today, recognized treatments with stem cells involve blood diseases or immune system defects, wrote the Thai researcher Sorapop Kiatpongsan and his Japanese colleague Douglas Sipp. In reality, many other treatments have been offered without proof of their effectiveness.
For example, treatments are being offered to cure heart disease, autism, Down’s syndrome, and epilepsy. These treatments are ineffective and are mainly offered in countries with low scientific standards. However, at times they are also offered in countries with higher standards like Japan, the USA, and Germany. Proponents of the treatments normally use testimonies from patients on their Internet sites, blogs, or conferences to market the treatments. Since it would be difficult to institute a global ban against all unauthorized treatments, the two scholars have asked single governments to be particularly vigilant with regards to scientific research and results.
An efficient way to prevent scams could be strict regulations to establish both the quality of the drugs and their correct publication. There are already regulations of this type in the USA and Europe, and Thailand has also introduced more strict regulations on stem cells therapy. The media could also give a sound contribution to unmasking ineffective treatments, underlined Kiatpongsan (University of Bangkok) and Sipp (University of Kyoto). Finally, organizations like the “International society for stem cell research” and global health organizations should publish guidelines and information for patients in various languages.