With so much discussion about stem cells and their potential benefits, it is often difficult to determine if stem cells can really help you, your friend or family member.
Although stem cell research offers great promise for numerous injuries and diseases, reports in the media and the Internet typically imply that treatments are more advanced and reliable than is medically confirmed. In reality few stem cell treatments have been proven to provide patients with long lasting benefit and are recognized and accepted forms of medical treatment. The vast majority of potential treatments remain in development phase and may just be entering clinical trials to determine if they are safe and effective.
Despite this lack of evidence, patients around the world - including in Australia - are increasingly being sold unproven ‘stem cell’ treatments that may not work or even be safe. Even when the cells come from the patient, that doesn’t necessarily make them ‘natural’ and ‘risk free’.
To find out more about stem cells and what makes stem cells so special; how they are currently used in research and in the clinic, as well as raising concerns about unproven stem cell treatments that are currently being offered in Australia and overseas, please download The Australian Stem Cell Handbook.
You might find the information about clinical trials and a helpful checklist of questions you should ask anyone offering to sell you treatment. The Handbook also includes a guide on how to determine if a proposed stem cell treatment is an accepted medical practice or should be considered an experimental or unproven therapy.
The newly released Australian National Health and Medical Research Council resources - Stem Cell Treatments - A Quick Guide for Medical Practitioners and Stem Cell Treatments - Frequently Asked Questions - provide a helpful guide for those seeking more information.
It is important that you or anyone contemplating unproven treatments continue to do their research. Ask for the evidence that supports the marketing claims, and discuss all options with an independent doctor who can provide impartial advice about the real risks and benefits of any treatment being considered.
The Australian Stem Cell Handbook was developed in conjunction with the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia.