Are stem cell tourists being swindled?

Maybe, maybe not. According to the July edition of the publication
Popular Science and its online companion site
PopSci.com, desperate US patients are headed offshore for experimental stem cell therapies, referred to as stem cell tourism.

Although there are numerous warnings, many patients are left with few options and turn to companies that supply adult stem cells that are harvested from their bone marrow and blood, including Regenocyte Therapeutic, XCell-Center (Germany), TheraVitae (Canada) and Beike Biotechnology (China).

The US-based cardiologist Zannos Grekos, MD, FAAC, the founder of the adult stem-cell company Regenocyte Therapeutic, offers a unique process touted as "safe, highly effective, and present[ing] minimal risk."

The process involves an evaluation and drawing of blood in Florida, then the blood is flown to Israel "so that the stem cells can be ‘activated' and multiplied to a therapeutic strength" in a lab; once ready they're sent to the Dominican Republic where the patient is greeted and begins the therapy.

The cost is about $64,000 (€52,733) and Regenocyte's site states that this therapy is used to treat a range of health challenges affecting cardiac and vascular patients as well as ongoing research and development to help those suffering from ALS, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis.

On June 7, Costa Rica announced that it has "discontinued stem cell procedures at its biggest clinic, the Institute of Cellular Medicine (ICM) in San Jose, which has treated about 400 people since it opened in 2006" because the Ministry of Health in Costa Rica found "there is no hard scientific evidence indicating that the treatments work."

ICM had promoted stem-cell treatments that have yet to be proven efficacious or safe for "multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and spinal cord injury."

The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) continually urges patients not to seek therapy overseas because these practices have not been proven sound by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In 2009, Jeanne Loring, PhD, director for the Center for Regenerative Medicine at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in California, echoed ISSCR's concern in a video clip, explaining stem cell tourism as the "exploitation of the promise of cures using stem-cells."

Loring then asked those who have made the decision to seek stem cell therapies overseas against all the warnings "to ask the clinic to collect a sample of the stem cells they intend to use you can freeze and send it to me and I will analyze it for free and I will tell you what the stem cells are and ... [whether it] will be dangerous or helpful to you."

Grekos contends that the practice is safe and that adult stem cells should not be in the domain of the FDA, "There's no genetic manipulation or splicing - you're not altering the cells at all. All you're doing is maturing them. The growth factors we use are naturally occurring in the body."

Whereas cardiologist Deepak Srivastava, the director of Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco and member of ISSCR, said "an unbiased body approving these treatments is important so the public has some sort of stamp. I get e-mails frequently from patients around the world saying, ‘I got stem-cell injections, and initially it seemed like it might have helped, but now I'm back in the same boat.' "

It is unclear if patients are being swindled, but if you find yourself reaching for your passport to get some stem cells why not take Loring up on her offer - it's free and a clinic confident in their research and therapies should be willing to undergo a second (verifying) opinion. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgHBi1y1KG8

Watch stem cell tourist testimonials: http://www.vescell.com/adult-stem-cells/adult-stem-cell-patient-video.php and http://www.regenocyte.com

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    BI Manager - £50,000

    £49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

    BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

    £48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

    VB.Net Developer

    £35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

    SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game