Stem Cell therapies offer a source of hope for many patients who otherwise have run out of options. However, lured by the promise of hope, many patients around the world have fallen victim to scam clinics.
Now, the Irish Stem Cell Foundation is looking to push forward efforts that would help educate the public not only about stem cell therapies, but also the scams that are becoming too common.
Dr. Stephen Sullivan, the chief officer a the ISCF, said that presently, there are only nine safe and effective treatments for illnesses that use stem cells. He added that many trials are underway.
"These [therapies] are for two cancers of the blood (leukaemia and lymphoma), some rare blood disorders and two conditions related to the cornea (the front of the eye) and the skin," he told Health and Living.
Dr. Sullivan understands the importance of educating the public so that they are informed when making decisions about which therapies to engage in.
"There is misinformation floating around," Dr. Sullivan said. "Scam clinics are abundant and offer patient testimonials instead of peer-reviewed medical papers as evidence.”
"There is money to be made by telling desperate patients and their loved ones that there is a cure."
Dr. Sullivan shared some of the warning signs for potential scam scenarios.
"A key sign of a scam is where the patient or carer is asked for a large amount of money up front," he said.
"The person will also have to travel to a jurisdiction where medical oversight and policing is weak. There is no aftercare treatment care and observation after the person returns home.
"They may be offering a cure for physiologically distinct conditions such as autism and diabetes."
Dr. Sullivan went on to say that with the lack of Irish legislation regarding stem cell research is not helping those who could benefit from such research.
"It does not help the situation that the Government does not honor its promise in the Programme for Government to introduce stem-cell legislation," he added. "It makes it harder for the public to discriminate reality from scam."