Put simply, stem cells are generic cells, a kind of blank slate. They can multiply and develop into specialized cells, like muscle cells or red blood cells. Stem-cell treatments try to take advantage of that regenerative property to help fix diseased or damaged tissues in the body.
Research published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association found about half the clinics in Texas, California and Florida that advertised stem cell-based procedures didn’t seem to have a doctor with “formal training matching the conditions [they] claimed to treat.”
Leigh Turner, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics and one of the study’s authors, said, for example, a clinic without a doctor with expertise in neurology or neurosurgery advertised stem-cell treatments for neurological disorders like ALS, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
Turner said stem-cell treatment for blood-related cancers and some immunological conditions is backed by numerous studies and has become standardized care. However, his research found businesses that advertised claims ahead of the evidence for treating other conditions.