The growing global "infodemic" around stem cell therapies – Axios

By daniellenierenberg

An industry centered around unproven stem cell therapies is flourishing due to misinformation.

Why it matters: Stem cells offer a tantalizing potential to address a large number of diseases, like Parkinson's, ALS, cancers and bodily injuries. But only a small number of therapies have been found safe and effective through clinical trials, while misinformation continues to proliferate.

The latest: The Pew Charitable Trusts issued a brief in early June that describes a rising number of reported adverse events.

Background: Clinics with unregulated stem cell products or therapies began emerging in the early 2000s all over the world, "taking advantage of the media hype around stem cells and patients hope and desperation," says Mohamed Abou-el-Enein, executive director of the Joint USC/CHLA Cell Therapy Program at USC's Keck School of Medicine.

Regulatory agencies like the FDA need to crack down on these misinformation campaigns, several experts say.

What they're saying: Turner says in that period the FDA contacted about 400 businesses to warn of noncompliance and issued several warning letters, but adds that was "probably of very little consequence. ... A one-year period could be justified, but three years is basically like a security guard walking away from the post, and you can guess what's going to happen."

The big picture: This is a global threat as well, Master and Abou-el-Enein say. In a recent perspective in the journal Stem Cell Reports, they argue for the WHO to establish an expert advisory committee to explore global standards.

What's next: Researchers are still hopeful stem cell therapies can be effective but emphasize the need for more research into how stem cells work and how they can be manipulated for therapies.

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The growing global "infodemic" around stem cell therapies - Axios

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