Researcher warns of risks associated with unregulated stem cell treatments

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A researcher at the University of Alberta has a warning about the dangers of unregulated stem cell treatments.

While he’s a believer in the science behind stem cell therapy, Canada research chair in health law and policy Tim Caulfield told the Alberta Morning News there aren’t many treatments that are ready for the clinic.

“Lots of great stuff is going on, but unfortunately there are clinics all over the world that are marketing unproven stem cell therapies for everything,” said Caulfield. “Like MS, ALS, for cancers, for heart disease, you know you name it. So it’s really problematic and I’m worried about how we’re regulating this field.”

He warned a lot of times the research is presented as being effective without any associated risks.

But Caulfield admitted trying to put warning labels on websites touting the benefits of stem cell treatments would be difficult.

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“That’s a legally tough move, you have to be ready for lawsuits, and you have to be willing to defend your position. And unfortunately there aren’t many international professional societies or scientific societies that have the resources to take that on. And that is one of the reasons that maybe an entity like the World Health Organization could step up and play a bigger role.”

Caulfield said he and other researchers just want to make sure the therapies work, and that the information being conveyed to the public is accurate.