Fears over ‘stem cell tourism’

Posted: August 5, 2012 at 10:10 am

A GROWING number of overseas clinics touting stem cell therapy for conditions ranging from sexual disorders to HIV are targeting Australia, where such treatments are restricted.

Australian scientists have raised concerns about so-called ''stem cell tourism'', saying many of the treatments offered are unproven, untested and potentially deadly.

The Swiss firm Fetal Cell Technologies International has been advertising in Australia since last year and Emcell, based in Ukraine, started promoting its services last month.

It is estimated as many as 200 Australians have travelled overseas for the therapy. The secretary for science policy at the Australian Academy of Science, Bob Williamson, said he empathised with the desperation of seriously ill people but warned against the unproven therapies, which can cost up to $60,000.


''The therapies are almost all untested and unproven and sometimes they have killed people,'' Professor Williamson said. The Sun-Herald's calls to Emcell's Melbourne office were not returned.

Stem Cells Australia's Megan Munsie, who is conducting a study into stem cell tourism with Monash University, said many people she interviewed were unaware of the risks of therapy overseas.

''We're not talking about rubbing something into your skin or taking a capsule, we are talking about often a very invasive procedure,'' she said.

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Fears over 'stem cell tourism'

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