Not on your life. This is a mushrooming business, almost entirely unregulated and, in the opinion of most experts, quackery. These are run by physicians with no formal background or expertise in stem cell research, claiming to treat more than 30 diseases, including ALS, multiple sclerosis, lupus, erectile dysfunction. Many of these clinics also do “stem cell facelifts.” As you might have guessed, this is not covered by health insurance, and fees are high. There are reports of deaths, and no research has shown that the treatments work.

There is a place for stem cell therapy in multiple sclerosis. This is done at a few university-based multiple sclerosis centers. Patients’ stem cells are “harvested” from their bloodstream, then grown in cell culture. In the meantime, the patient is treated with multiple immunosuppressive medications, and the stem cells are then reinfused. This treatment holds promise.

Jack Florin, MD

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