Experts: “Stem cell tourists” risking their lives and life savings

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LONDON – Thousands of people are putting their health and life savings at risk to travel to private clinics around the world for unproven and potentially dangerous stem cell treatments, British experts said.

A panel of specialists highlighted individual clinics in Germany and China where so-called “stem cell tourists” go for unlicensed treatment, and said there may be up to 700 similar businesses globally offering unproven cell therapies.

Despite a lack of scientific evidence that such therapies work, patients whose lives are blighted with conditions like Parkinson’s disease or childhood blindness are being lured into spending tens of thousands of dollars with little chance of success.

“The patient is in danger of losing their life and health, needlessly travelling long distances away from home, friends and family, not having their condition improved, and potentially losing a large sum of money,” said Chris Mason of University College London’s (UCL) regenerative medicine bioprocessing unit.