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Experts have warned desperate patients to steer clear of foreign clinics offering unproven stem cell therapies.
Despite widely-publicised success stories of “miracle” cures, there is no reliable evidence that any of the costly treatments work, said the scientists.
Several hundred private clinics have sprung up around the world claiming to have turned the dream of stem cell cures into reality.
The centres offer treatments for conditions as varied as spinal cord injury, heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, autism and eye disorders.
Thousands of patients globally are believed to have had the therapies, which may cost in the region of £20,000 or more.
A group of researchers spoke out about their concerns over “stem cell tourism” today after being flooded with inquiries from patients.
They admitted to fighting a losing battle as patients and families have their hopes raised by what they read in the media and online.
Professor Peter Coffey, director of the London Project to Cure Blindness at University College London, said: “I’ve literally pulled my hair out and made some very strong comments which could potentially land me in court, but people still go to these clinics.”
Copyright Press Association 2010