First stem-cell fraud case enters courts

Stem cell tourism may be on its last legs. Six Los Angeles residents are suing South Korean company RNL Bio and its associates in California for alleged fraud. They claim the company persuaded them to travel to clinics in South Korea, Mexico or China to donate fat tissue and have stem cells from it readministered to cure diseases and even counteract ageing.

While stem cells have some medical potential, only one treatment for a rare blood disorder is licensed in the US. Others are strictly experimental and it is illegal to provide them commercially. However, some companies are still promoting stem cell "cures" outside the US. According to RNL Bio, its fat-tissue stem cells are "safe technologies" for treating various illnesses.

These treatments have been criticised for years, but this is the first civil lawsuit for damages, New Scientist says. Bernard Siegel, of the Genetics Policy Institute, says the lawsuit "serves notice to the purveyors of unproven stem-cell treatments" that they could face litigation if they try to market in the US. ~ New Scientist, Jul 10

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