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Consumer Guide To Stem Cell Clinics

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the and-such-small-portions dept.

Medicine 40

Penguinsh- writes "Patients seeking stem cell treatments now have a guide to the various clinics purporting to offer such treatments. Not exactly a Zagat or Michelin, but much more objective information from qualified experts than was available before in one place. Created by the International Society for Stem Cell Research, the guide was the brainchild of a task force convened by former ISSCR President Irving Weissman of the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine."

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40 comments

First fucking post bitches (0, Offtopic)

love2putmypenisthere (1804486) | about 4 years ago | (#32769626)

hahahahah I just owned all you motherfuckers!

Any twofers? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32769736)

If not, maybe they could make me a supersize deal.

I have a consumer guide too. (3, Funny)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 4 years ago | (#32769774)

#1. Don't fucking go to one unless you want to be fleeced and risk death.

Review of said guide (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32769830)

Unfortunately, your consumer guide fails to take into account the fact that many (all?) of these clinics' customers have no alternative except death.

Re:Review of said guide (3, Insightful)

MadKeithV (102058) | about 4 years ago | (#32770052)

Being terminal might be an excuse for taking additional risks, but most (if not all) of the current "stem cell treatments" are just unfounded snake-oil designed to prey on desperate people, with not a single good reason to believe there is any chance it will make you better rather than worse. They might as well go for homeopathy or faith healing, except that those do NOT carry a risk of actually making things worse.

Re:Review of said guide (3, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | about 4 years ago | (#32770210)

Mate,

If I had a kid who had a nasty and currently incurable disease, I'd most certainly risk jail, or even death myself to give them a shot. After it gets to the point of death, all bets are off. Seriously. How far would you go for someone you loved?

In this case, at least it brings some semblence of regulation to an industry that has arisen from an environment born from holier than thou moral beliefs infiltrating politics, rather than hard science.

Re:Review of said guide (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 4 years ago | (#32770290)

Absolutely, and these snake oil purveyors are just preying on these desperate people.

There is a good chance that at some point in the future, stem cells will provide the answer, but we are not there yet.

Re:Review of said guide (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | about 4 years ago | (#32770314)

The question is: a shot of what?

Re:Review of said guide (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 years ago | (#32773614)

If you ask, it won't work!

If you don't believe hard enough, it won't work!

Re:Review of said guide (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | about 4 years ago | (#32770372)

Mate, If I had a kid who had a nasty and currently incurable disease, I'd most certainly risk jail, or even death myself to give them a shot.

You want to give them a shot - sure. So give them a real shot, instead of being gullible and quite possibly REDUCING their chances of being cured through a totally bogus and dangerous treatment method.
With stem cells, we're talking the hastening of the death of your child, not of you going to jail or dying (though depending on how criminal the treatment organization is, this may happen too). Using hyperbole, saying "stem cells might cure your kid" is akin to "being bitten by 210 venomous snakes might cure your kid". It's just not a sensible option, even IF you (or your kid) are terminal, because it is almost certain that there will be NO cure because of the treatment, and also a high risk of things getting worse, shortening the time in which a real treatment may become available.

In this case, at least it brings some semblence of regulation to an industry that has arisen from an environment born from holier than thou moral beliefs infiltrating politics, rather than hard science.

The industry does not need a semblance of regulation lending a semblance of credibility when it does not deserve it. It needs to follow the existing regulation, just like everyone else has to, with all other treatments in the medical field. Out of all "medical miracle cures" that are announced, how many actually turn out to be true? Yes, it sucks for those who really need a treatment now, but often they can get in on trials if proper regulations are followed.

Re:Review of said guide (1)

priegog (1291820) | about 4 years ago | (#32770986)

To further your point, I'd like to see ANYWHERE a report of any single clinic that has achieved any percentage (small as it may be) of cures/remissions/prolongued survival than with current MEDICAL treatments.
If anyone arguing that these clinics are worthwhile can provide this, I'll shut up.
But the fact of the matter is that NONE exist. As you previously said, these are as bad as homeopathy et-al in the charlatanry side of things, but these guys are playing with real stuff, and the consequences are potentially much, much worse. Homeopathy at least is just water and won't kill you any faster...

Re:Review of said guide (1)

asukasoryu (1804858) | about 4 years ago | (#32771146)

You want to give them a shot - sure. So give them a real shot

The parent already proposed the disease is incurable. What real shot are you talking about? While I agree that taking advantage of people's desperation is deplorable, I don't think we should pull the rug out from under them. Give people the opportunity to do their own research. When faced with death, I would like to contact these clinics and get some real facts (with statistics) about the effectiveness of their snake oil. At some point, stem cell treatment will be effective, and I'd be elated if I was the first person to benefit from it. People deserve to choose for themselves. Don't tell someone who's terminal (not curable) they can't do something because it may shorten their life. The only thing I'd suggest in this situation is making the clinic's results available to the public.

Re:Review of said guide (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | about 4 years ago | (#32771442)

The parent already proposed the disease is incurable. What real shot are you talking about?

If the disease is really incurable then there is no shot, by definition; not even some pipe dream stem cell treatment. If it is curable, a potential cure with at least some clinical information that it may have a positive effect is better than an unproven, unregulated, dangerous treatment. The existing regulations allow for this: clinical trials.

I don't think we should pull the rug out from under them

You are not pulling the rug out from under them; there is currently no rug (in stem cell therapy). That's the tragedy. Stem cell clinics are trying to convince people there is a rug, just for monetary gain, and these people are desperate for there to be an actual rug, but there is none.

If you truly need a totally unfounded "rug", there's always homeopathy, religion, and a host of other esoteric "treatments". In the extreme, you could have a clinic that advocates generously donating to charity followed by euthanasia because you will then reincarnate into a healthy body for a full and healthy life.

At some point, stem cell treatment will be effective

That is currently wishful thinking. At some point, stem cell treatment MAY be effective. To get to that point, where it has proven effectiveness and the side-effects are known, research will have to follow the perfectly sound and safe current regulations.

Saying that stem cell research needs special treatment is nonsense. It could be the next penicillin, but it might as well be the next thalidomide [wikipedia.org] , or akin to some of the historical uses of radium in things like food and toothpaste. [wikipedia.org] .

I work for a company that needs to get FDA approval for its products. It's not easy, it's a lengthy process, and often painful, but it got there for a reason. These "stem cell clinics" are just about the poster child of why it's needed.

Re:Review of said guide (1)

asukasoryu (1804858) | about 4 years ago | (#32771876)

I agree that clinical trials are the best path. The problem I have with that is the time it takes to prove a cure is effective. How many people have to die waiting?
I also maintain that people have the right to choose. Hopefully they make an informed choice, but if they understand the risks, they should be allowed their snake oil/thalidomide/radium/stem cells.

Re:Review of said guide (1)

Archades54 (925582) | about 4 years ago | (#32772152)

If no other treatment exists, then I don't see why people shouldn't be trying it out if they are given all the info and there is at least a half decent basis for thinking it may work. Stem cells do have a lot of power, the trick is using it right I guess.

Re:Review of said guide (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 4 years ago | (#32772222)

Actually there are stem cell treatments that work (for example, bone marrow transplants). Of course you don't have to go to some special "stem cell clinic" to get those treatments.

Re:Review of said guide (1)

vrmlguy (120854) | about 4 years ago | (#32772268)

People deserve to choose for themselves. Don't tell someone who's terminal (not curable) they can't do something because it may shorten their life

Yeah, I'm sure that this woman was glad she spent a bunch on money on something that not only shortened her life, but caused her to spend her last 21 months on dialysis.
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2010/06/18/danger-stem-cell-tourists-patient-in-thailand-dies-from-treatment/

Re:Review of said guide (1)

asukasoryu (1804858) | about 4 years ago | (#32772314)

I'm sure she was happy she had a choice. I'm sure she was unhappy with the consequences of that choice. I'd guess she should have done more research.

Re:Review of said guide (1)

vrmlguy (120854) | about 4 years ago | (#32772198)

So, you'r saying you'd rather give a lot of money to a snake-oil salesman and then not mind becoming too poor to get a real cure for that or another of your kids later.

Re:Review of said guide (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 4 years ago | (#32796294)

If I had a kid who had a nasty and currently incurable disease, I'd most certainly risk jail, or even death myself to give them a shot.

If my daughter was sick, I'd do anything that actually had a chance of working to help her. Going to some shady underground "clinic" and having them inject her with a cocktail of unknown chemicals and a few of her stem cells, is not on the list of possibilities.

In this case, at least it brings some semblence of regulation to an industry that has arisen from an environment born from holier than thou moral beliefs infiltrating politics, rather than hard science.

Hard science? Hard science requires clinical trials under controlled circumstances. Not some random asshole mixing up a remedy in his centrifuge and injecting it into someone.

LK

Re:I have a consumer guide too. (2, Interesting)

worip (1463581) | about 4 years ago | (#32769872)

The desperate few who may think that this is the option of last resort (terminally ill, insane, etc.) may eventually pave the way for this to become safe and mainstream.

Re:I have a consumer guide too. (1)

kaka.mala.vachva (1164605) | about 4 years ago | (#32770040)

Thankfully, your opinion isn't likely to change things. Most people who go to such clinics will have no other options. When I read your comment, all I could think was - what an idiot.

Re:I have a consumer guide too. (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 4 years ago | (#32796210)

Thankfully, your opinion isn't likely to change things.

You must own stock in such a "clinic".

Most people who go to such clinics will have no other options.

They have the option of doing nothing. Doing nothing won't make the situation worse which these "clinics" almost always do.

LK

Re:I have a consumer guide too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32788130)

Depends on what you want treatment for - they're using people's own stem cells to treat orthopedic problems, and that seems to work pretty well. Several news stories on it compiled in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnCnq6UHzIM

Not exactly a Zagat or Michelin (1)

djupedal (584558) | about 4 years ago | (#32769778)

Ya' think?

Given that it doesn't list one clinic.

Try a 'report' on how to query clinics. etc. And old in some places, at that.

Futurama [paraphrased] (4, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about 4 years ago | (#32769862)

FRY: Stem cells- aren't those controversial?
PROFESSOR: In your time, yes. Now we have adult stem cells, harvested from healthy adults, whom I killed for their stem cells!

Re:Futurama [paraphrased] (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32769950)

Not so much paraphrased as quoted verbatim, no?

Re:Futurama [paraphrased] (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about 4 years ago | (#32769962)

Maybe; it was just on a minute ago.

Re:Futurama [paraphrased] (2, Informative)

zarzu (1581721) | about 4 years ago | (#32770342)

the original quote goes like this:

“Fetal stem cells? Aren’t those controversial?” – Fry

“In your time, yes. But nowadays, shut up! Besides, these are adult stem cells, harvested from perfectly healthy adults, whom I killed for their stem cells.” – Professor

Bad Imagery... (4, Funny)

Anachragnome (1008495) | about 4 years ago | (#32769970)

I have some bad mental imagery associated with the phrase "Stem Cell Clinic".

Every time I hear that term, I think about the scenes in one of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "John Carter of Mars" books, where the antagonist is quite literally growing his army in vats, one glob of goo at a time.

Rooms full of vats, writhing and squirming as unformed body parts start to coalesce. An arm flailing out of the goo...an eye watching you from the corner of a vat, consciousness already apparent in it's solitary gaze.

For some odd reason, I also associate this mental imagery with what must surely go on in the kitchen of my old elementary school's cafeteria.

Re:Bad Imagery... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32773556)

And one day, with enough technology and patience, we will be able to grow people who can use the apostrophe. Seriously, it's means IT IS. How is this difficult?

Re:Bad Imagery... (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | about 4 years ago | (#32781696)

"And one day, with enough technology and patience, we will be able to grow people who can use the apostrophe. Seriously, it's means IT IS. How is this difficult?"

And one day, with enough technology and patience, we will be able to recycle nitpicking assholes like you in the very same vats, hopefully into something a little more useful.

Que (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32769990)

“Fetal stem cells? Aren’t those controversial?” – Fry
“In your time, yes. But nowadays, shut up!
Besides, these are adult stem cells, harvested from perfectly healthy adults, whom I killed for their stem cells.” – Professor

Does the guide include... (1)

SigersonLTD (1846508) | about 4 years ago | (#32770390)

A count of how many people have actually been saved by their treatments? Oh, wait. That would be the same for all....

Some thoughts, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32770710)

My sister had experemental stem cell treatment back in the 1980's. Back then it was done in a hospital, but everything was very much kept as a secret. It was thought that if the general populance became aware of the reseach, there would be a general negative response. I wont say too much, to protect the doctors invloved, but I would say the children in that trail have had a better quality of life then children with the same condition not in the trial.

The unproven and private nature of these enterprises may be because many are scams. But I would guess there are some genuine doctors who simply want to conduct experemental treatment without being vilified by religious nut's claiming that they should not play god. Also private funding can be easier than govenment funding, if you live in a country where the government is not on board with this kind of research.

If you could just walk into a hospital and say, this is my body and I want this procedure, then these small clinics and scam artits would have no market. Unfortunantly medical research is mired by politics and religious activists.

Nice title! (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 4 years ago | (#32771116)

Consumer Guide To Stem Cell Clinics

Stem Cells: The Cannibal's Caviar!

Woohoo! It's a road map to teratomas! (1)

Machupo (59568) | about 4 years ago | (#32771188)

I always wanted some teeth growing at the base of my spine.

Seriously, lets exploit some desperate people for basic reseach... sigh.

Re:Woohoo! It's a road map to teratomas! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32771668)

Life is cheap. Beyond that, the western world has no sense of risk anymore. Ohes noes, an adult that has all the ability to do basic research might be taken advantage of...color me not caring.

I have a progressive disease that will eventually kill me. I spent a year in the hospital along with rehabilitation that went along with all of this a decade back...I was told I was most likely not going to live as long as I have. I've had two other episodes that required emergency surgery in the last three years. All because of a genetic defect that the repair of would require repairing the genes in stem cells and a brief therapy...there have been two deaths that I know of in the attempt to cure it this way, and both gave a LOT of knowledge about how to go about this sort of treatment.

At this point in my life, I know what it takes to keep this in check and can probably get away with another 10 years before it becomes a real problem again (actually my case has changed the treatment of the disease somewhat) but when it does and I can no longer function to the ability I am accustom to (a truncated life is better than one where I'm not living a real life)...but when it happen, I'll sign up for whatever treatment is available.

But some ethicists still consider this explorations...including armchair ethicists like you...

They just have run-of-the-mill "clinics" for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32773942)

I have a rare immune condition and I am actually being considered as a candidate, by my doctors, for a bone marrow transplant (also known as a "Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation").

I just can't wrap my head around that there are clinics that people can just go to, as consumers, to "get stem cell transplants". There's an enormous amount of preparation, planning and work-up involved. What I have learned, so far, is that the entire procedure would take a number of years (yes, years) from "start diet, checkups, health maintenance and preparative drugs", to "chemo to kill immune system", to "actually transplanting the cells", to "full recovery of immune function". The actual procedure would take place in the cancer ward of a large, well-known, esteemed hospital by actual doctors employed by the public healthcare system, require a hospital stay of 4-6 weeks and frequent hospital admittances for several months afterwards.

A stem cell transplant is, in the very best case, a last-ditch effort procedure that always carries a risk of fatality. It is as serious and carries as many potential complications as an organ transplant. I just can't understand how there are places that offer this willy-nilly as an elective procedure.

Good, Bad, Middle (1)

PublicBore (1342919) | about 4 years ago | (#32784206)

Some people want the issue of stem cell research to be explored. But exploring an issue like this requires a discussion of the ethics involved. That's good because a free and honest debate can give form to a general consensus. ... Some people want the science of stem cells to be explored. But only science in its truest form can provide useful knowledge, because it does not assign valuations of bad or good. Within science, knowledge of stem cell therapy benefits are valued as highly as knowledge of stem cell therapy failures. Philosophy only proves there are no certainties.
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