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Danger found in new, unproven stem cell treatment

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning after a dozen people were hospitalized with bacterial infections following unapproved stem-cell treatments. Consumer Reports has important safety tips to help keep you and your family safe.

If you are considering stem cell therapy, how can you tell if it is legitimate? One of the first tips is to beware of high prices. Clinical trials for stem cells usually don’t have flashy advertisements, don’t promise to be a cure-all, and shouldn’t cost you big bucks.

Also, don’t just settle for patient reviews. A doctor working with stem cells should be able to tell you where they’re from, what was done to them before being available for injection, and exactly how they’ll help you.

Finally, make sure to read the fine print. If the stem-cell treatment you’re considering is a clinical trial, make sure the FDA has given it a green light as an Investigative New Drug Application, or IND. The FDA advises patients to ask to see the approval letter to make sure it has been issued for the treatment under consideration. Those that have this approval are much more likely to be safe than those without it.

Health officials stress that there are safety risks even if your own stem cells are used in treatment. They include the failure of cells to work as expected and the possibility of tumors. If your stem cells are manipulated after being removed, there’s a risk of contamination and infection.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2019 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumerreports.org.

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