Research at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), run by the universities of Brighton and Sussex, has shown that nearly half of the top websites on stem cell therapy returned in a Google search are run by centres offering stem cell therapy, despite the fact that most such treatments are still undergoing clinical trials.
Professor Pietro Ghezzi, RM Phillips Chair in Experimental Medicine at BSMS, found that 44 per cent of the top 200 websites were for treatment centres offering such therapy, while 22 per cent were for news outlets including TV, magazines, and newspapers.
Professor Ghezzi said: “Although there is much hope that research on stem cells will lead to new therapies for many diseases, in most cases, the efficacy of stem cell therapy is still being tested clinically. Therefore, it was surprising to find so many websites offering clinical treatment.”
Also surprising, he said, was the fact that while media articles show an interest in the use of stem cells to cure neurological diseases, existing treatment centres, above all, offer treatment for joints, sport injury or arthritis, conditions for which the efficacy of stem cell treatment has not yet been demonstrated.
He said the study showed there was a disconnect between a public expectation of stem cells curing untreatable disease and the reality of an unregulated health market treating, for instance, sport injuries.
The study is published open access in Frontiers in Public Health.