Faith in science attracts health care seekers and accordingly, any groundbreaking invention draws millions to avail the specific treatment. Stem cell based therapy, one of the most talked about subjects in health care sector promising miraculous cure of dreadful ailments with adult stem cells and from umbilical cord, has caught the global attention with medical intelligentsia carrying out extensive research work to come up with proven and effective therapies specially in treating the two major killers: diabetes and heart diseases.
Stem cell based treatment is proven in cancer through bone marrow transplants. Accordingly, countries excelling in this treatment see a huge crowd of medical tourists, majorly sent by medical tourism facilitator companies. Based on the stem cell treatment hype, many patients being attracted toward aggressive marketing of the foreign clinics embark on stem cell tourism to another country which is unavailable in home country.
News of stem cell based therapies has garnered so much attention that thousands are flocking to clinics in China, US, Latin America and Soviet Union countries, while investing fortunes and hoping a miraculous cure. People mostly look for stem cell therapies to treat spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and also diabetes and cardiac ailments.
In this guide you will read about:
Guide to Stem Cell Treatments in Medical Tourism- Definition, Treatments, Risks and Threats and Things To Consider
Stem Cell Tourism
Though US had tried to conceal stem cell therapy during the early part of the century, they did not succeed ever in their attempts. The stem cell research has now emigrated and scientists have been working towards exploring the efficacies of embryonic and adult stem cells with astonishing results. However, now it is effectively implemented on many patients to cure them in many countries.
Public has become aware of this treatment therapy and they have been continuously demanding stem cell therapy to be included to the traditional treatment processes. However, US have decided not to implement the stem cell therapy a treatment method until it is proved to be foolproof. Stem cell therapy is believed to provide the patient with immediate relief, which has never been possible in institutionalized treatment therapies. This makes a lot of patients from UK and US travel abroad to avail a stem cell therapy.
The Western countries have been in a lot of trouble as far as health care industry is concerned. So people from those countries are flying abroad to avail quality health care. It represents the inability to provide their citizens with the treatment they require.
The doctors and researchers in US believe that stem cell therapy is pretty dangerous even though it has positive effects on a human. Many of the researches are working on the stem cell therapy to implement it safely on humans without any side effects. It cannot be denied that the growing demand of stem cell therapy is pretty tough to be ignored.
US have allowed applying stem cell therapy only on animals in a trial basis but people want to avail the treatment as soon as possible. It has provided the medical tourism industry with a chance to get their clients by offering them the stem cell treatment. Stem cell therapy is believed to create wonders in the medical science as it would enable people to develop new organs against their lost ones.
Medical tourism comes effective here as it is free from the resolution of clinical trials and bureaucratic red tape in a specific country. If you want the treatment, you need not bother a lot, all you need to do is to catch a plane to your medical tourism destination.
The medical tourism consultancies present in your locality may offer you with a chance for a miraculous new treatment procedure though it would be untested. However, stem cell therapy has not been legalized everywhere.
Why not stem cell-based medical tourism?
Hope brings in a new dawn especially to those suffering from terminal diseases where conventional therapies failed to pacify the suffering souls. People look for other least treaded avenues for cure and loud marketing from clinics claiming effective stem cell based therapies. These clinics are encashing patients’ hope to survive by creating an offshoot of medical tourism where the legality and efficacy of stem cell based treatments are open to question.
Naturally, the emerging stem cell tourism has raised serious concerns where unproven treatments are practiced on a high scale, some of which tend to overstep professional ethics and professional obligations. To take stock of the situation, regulatory bodies of physicians in many countries got into disciplinary actions to prevent the surge of malpractice of unproven stem cell therapies downplaying the associated risks, which ultimately violated the patients’ physical and financial interests.
The saddest part of the story is that these clinics tout that the treatments offered by them are established and recognized where the reality may be just the opposite.
A decade back, a clinic in Germany made a handsome business by marketing stem cell therapy for debilitating ailments and bypassing the loopholes existent in German law. Their website advertised myriad treatments with a detailing of the procedures and cures.
It actually downplayed the risks and ethical practices associated with stem cell therapy especially in case of autologous stem cell based therapies. The clinic adopted all steps to convince and attract the healthcare seekers by posting concocted testimonials and praising the clinic for miraculous cure which was far from being true. But a series of adverse events that claimed lives of people ultimately saw the shutting down of the clinic.
This is just one example. Many clinics operate stem cell treatments based on experimentation which is nothing but toying with the hopes of the hopeless. Such clinics are able to operate based on legal loopholes unless few sad stories crop up to force the government to take disciplinary actions. A genuine medical tourism facilitator company will guide clients to authentic clinics.
Problems that can arise in stem cell based medical tourism
Stem cell therapy is a regenerative process where the patient’s protection and life care takes utmost precedence, but the rampant unethical practices by the renowned clinics do not consider the above mentioned factors at all.
Areas of threat
Internet does the marketing at a lightning speed and hitting million brains instantly. Though an instant source of information, internet does not always portray the true picture; most importantly the reliability factor. People blindly following net based information without proper verification are bound to land in trouble. In practice, most of the cases of stem cell based MT are through emails and internet info where the reality check is often ignored.
Researches based on stem cell based therapies show a highly promising future but slight overreaction from scientists and researchers regarding their findings can lead to peril. Plus media highlighting those findings do some overstatement which in the long run affects the commoners who do not have that level of insight in this matter.
Embryonic stem cells and pluripotent stem cells are potent regenerative tissues but research on stem cells collected from donated embryos are not allowed in every country and are bound by certain restrictions. Thus, serious ethical questions arise in allowing the researchers to use high precision gene editing tools to rectify the genetic constituent of embryos to remove the gene responsible for hereditary diseases.
The safety factor in gene editing is a serious factor that highly demands social consensus. In short, ‘embryo editing’ is challenged by top bio-medical researchers and the intelligentsia. In a nutshell, most of the stem cell based therapies are yet to be recognized as the researches are still on and thus, creating hype over certain findings must be seriously avoided to eradicate the mushrooming of the unhealthy stem cell based medical tourism.
Medical Tourism and dealing with adult stem cells
Medical tourism industry has become an important industry of the world and has become an indispensable concept such as marketing, finance, and many more. As an industry, the technological advents have been massive in this field, which has allured people to travel around to avail medical treatment form a place that best suit their requirements and demands.
Technology has played an important role in making medical tourism a popular phenomenon; it has given this field many new concepts, which has truly transformed the face of this industry. One such technologically gifted concept is of Adult stem cells; this concept has attracted many medical travelers from around the world.
Adult Stem Cells
These are autologous cells and are extracted from the fat taken by liposuction. These cells have unique properties; they are undifferentiated i.e. they have the ability to become whatever cell the body requires. They can take the form of any bodily cell, which is dying and replenishes the dying cells.
Adult Stem Cells – an enticing measure for medical travel
Adult stem cells have recently become an enticing factor for the patients to travel abroad for medical travel. Most of the patients opting for this solution are frustrated with their earlier treatments, which prove to be of no use.
Medical tourism is actively promoting the stem cell treatment, realizing that this is a huge opportunity for earning monetary benefits as well as, it is a great breakthrough in treating people who otherwise keep fighting a lost battle. Medical tourism consultant send medical tourists to destinations which specialize in adult stem cell therapy.
Pharmaceutical companies and adult stem cells
Availing medical treatment, using a person’s own stem cells would directly hit the bottom line of the pharmaceutical industries. Therefore, to protect the interests of these pharmaceuticals, FDA has announced that these stem cells are drugs and therefore subject to regulatory oversight. This has become the biggest reason for the patients in US to look for other medical tourism destinations, from where they can have the treatment with the help of their own stem cells, which provides them long-term results.
The last resort
Being treated with the help of stem cells often is the last resort for people. This process has worked wonders for many a patients who had almost given up on life. This process has saved many lives and today these people have become biggest promoters of this concept. This last resort can be extremely helpful for patients and therefore has become one of the biggest drivers of the medical tourism industry.
Transparency is necessary
Before you undergo adult stem cell treatments, make sure you are in good hands. There is no denying to the fact that many illegitimate surgeries are performed in the name of stem cell treatment. You have to make a safe choice and choose a well-reputed destination for the same. Study the legal and ethical policy of the institution offering this surgery. Transparency is one measure to check the relevance of the procedure. No reputed stem cell surgeon will promise you a cure; rather he will assure you of a quality life. Make sure a specialist is performing the surgery.
Thus, it can be rightly concluded that treatment using a person’s own stem cells can be an extremely effective measure in improving the quality of life of the patient who undergoes the procedure. This has been a major enticing factor for patients to travel abroad for this treatment and has provided a great boost to the medical tourism industry. Medical tourism industry is a promoter of quality lives and using adult stem cells for treatment is helping them do this in a strong way.
Using adult stem cells for treating various ailments has become a measure that has boosted the medical tourism industry. People look for a long-term help and this offers them the prospect they are looking for, this has largely increased the number of medical travels opting for stem cell treatment procedures.
Not All is Kosher With Mindless Stem Cell Medical Tourism, say Experts
Stem cell medical tourism is steadily growing as some healthcare destinations are marketing stem cell therapies to patients who are desperate for a cure. It is being seen as a global problem as there is an entire industry which is directly marketing unproven therapies to patients.
People with rare and incurable diseases are most susceptible and vulnerable, and some medical tourist destinations are cashing in on their vulnerability, even though they have no proof that their stem cell therapies would work. There are cases when stem cell therapy is more harmful to disillusioned patients who were induced to try it out. Let’s see the reasons why experts are against mindless stem cell tourism:
What is stem cell therapy?
Though there are various types of stem cells, most research is focused on stem cells derived from embryos and iPSCs or induced Pluripotent stem cells. Both of these stem cell types can produce any cell type, be it bone cells, kidney, heart or brain. iPSCs derived from adults can be manipulated chemically to turn into embryonic-like condition.
Research using donated embryos is permitted in the US, Canada and some other countries under strict restrictions, especially in the areas of new disease, human reproduction, chromosomal disorders, genetic disorders, and human development.
Lack of proven efficacy of stem cell therapy
According to a paper by bioethics and science experts, the growing use and marketing of stem cell therapy worldwide is a cause for concern, as this field of therapy is still in the experimental stage. They claim that interventions using stem cell therapy is unsustainable and problematic. People who have incurable diseases are mostly the ones who are the main targets of stem cell tourism.
They have stressed the need for scientists, regulators, clinicians, and patient advocates to work with each other to try to keep patients within the clinical trial process, so that there is safety for the patients, and there would be documented data for scientists to determine the results of the therapy, and make the necessary improvements for the development of this therapy.
Otherwise, patients are flocking to countries where unproven experimental stem therapy is provided instead of waiting for clinical trials to be completed.
Hyped results creating a market for stem cell therapy
Although stem cell therapy has great promise, and may be used to treat myriad diseases, and even regenerate organs within the human body, there is very little clinically proven data right now, to use stem cell therapy. Scientists have urged researchers not to hype the results of stem cell therapy to the public and media.
But there is a section of unscrupulous healthcare facilities all around the world, which are aggressively marketing stem cell therapy. These medical tourist healthcare providers are presenting an overly optimistic view of stem cells and are using uncontrolled and selective testimonials from patients to suggest unprecedented benefit from this therapy, playing on the emotions of the public.
Many experts are also afraid to speak out against this aggressive marketing due to fear to political backlash and litigation.
Dangers due to experimental stem cell therapy
Experts are of the opinion that patients may lose money and health, as stem cell therapies offered by some medical tourist destinations are in the experimental stage and these interventions may prove to be unsafe and ineffective. The current data from procedures using stem cells are unsuitable for research to be conducted based on that data, and outcomes cannot be measured.
Additionally, there is no guarantee that patients are actually receiving the treatment they were promised, and no one can measure the effect of the dosage they receive.
Experts are advising governments to put proper policies in place to regulate stem cell therapy interventions,according to FDA approval. Many unlicensed clinics and doctors are providing unproven stem cell therapy and there is very little or non-existent follow-up care.
Patients who have life-threatening diseases are seeking out expensive stem cell therapies which are being offered by some medical tourism destinations. Unregulated clinics in these destinations offer unproven and unsafe stem cell solutions to people as there are no strict guidelines or regulations from the governments to stop them. People should therefore be cautious about medical tourism consultant companies, as well as healthcare facilities before deciding on innovative therapies like stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine.