The reputation of stem cell research is being undermined by clinics offering unrealistic therapies.

According to Bio News, the Lancet Commission on Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine has brought together a number of leading scientists to review progress and consider challenges facing the discipline.

The Lancet’s Editor-in-Chief, Dr Richard Horton, explained, “Regenerative medicine offers transformative potential for the future of patient care. But that potential could be jeopardised by low-quality research and a loss of public trust in stem cell science.”

The report stated, “Excitement about possible treatments for incurable diseases like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, inflated by media reports, had led desperate patients and families to a proliferating number of poorly regulated clinics peddling untested and potentially ineffective therapies.”

Professor Giulio Cosso of the University of Manchester, leader of the commission, suggested that in other organs ‘fixing’ cells is not enough. “As soon as you move to diseases that affect the muscles, the brain and the heart, you can’t remove the diseased tissue. You add your healthy or cured cell to 95 that have not been cured.”

As a result of increased public expectations and proven treatments has allowed a market to emerge offering false treatments, more often than not at high prices.

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it would be taking a tougher stance against US clinics offering such treatments.

However, the report argued that ‘new therapies expose patients to risks, some of which are difficult to predict even with inbuilt safeguards’ and that use in humans needs proper governance.

The commission recommends improvement in science, funding models, governance and public engagement.

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