Podcast: The Wild West of stem cells

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Michael Joyce is a multimedia producer at HealthNewsReview.org and tweets as @mlmjoyce

Stem cell clinics are booming. And hurting people.

How can patients protect themselves in a marketplace where the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and state medical boards have been ineffectual?

In this podcast you’ll hear from George Gibson (a patient left blind after a dubious stem cell intervention), Leigh Turner PhD (a bioethicist who’s been following the stem cell marketplace closely), and Drs. Jeanne Loring and Paul Knoepfler – two PhD stem cell researchers from California.

There are two websites that most of the people I interviewed for this story recommended as reliable and user-friendly places to go for further information on stem cells:

Although it’s directed at journalists, our 9 Writing Tips to Combat Stem Cell Hype in Your News Stories also will be of interest to most readers of health care news. We’ve closely followed coverage of stem cells for the past several years. Here’s just a sampling:

Bioethicist Leigh Turner, who was interviewed for this podcast, has published two papers in the past year that may be of interest. The first was published in the summer of 2016 and was co-authored by Paul Knoepfler. It offers a compelling look into the number and locations of stem cell clinics marketing directly to US consumers.

This summer Turner published a study documenting the use of clinicaltrials.gov by clinics offering unregulated interventions. In this Q&A with Turner, he discusses much of the background leading up to the publication. It’s a very interesting read.

Also quite provocative is this very concise “call to action” penned by Tim Caulfield, Douglass Sipp, and others published just last month. It offers an important perspective on what’s needed to keep people from being harmed by unregulated stem cell therapies.

Finally we’d like to continue the conversation and would love to hear from you during our upcoming Twitter chat!


You can listen to all our podcasts HERE.


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