“Scientists and clinicians say, ‘Don’t do this,’ ” said Dr. Jaime Imitola, a neurologist and stem cell researcher at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center who has written about the dangers of stem cell tourism. But, he said, their warnings often do not resonate.
"Stem cell tourism” is a rising Internet-based industry that aims to offer unproven procedures to patients with incurable diseases.
The scientific community needs to provide a clear and consistent message—as many are now doing—about the actual, nascent state of stem cell research. In addition, we need independent and accurate information for both the public and health professionals about the risks and limitations associated with the services provided by stem cell clinics.
And, given the uniquely influential position of high-profile athletes in this context, the scientific community should consider reaching out to professional sports teams and sport associations.
Given that they have much to gain from proven and efficacious therapies, these organizations should be encouraged to support scientific research and to counter unjustified media hype by responsibly communicating to the public what we currently know and don’t know about stem cells.