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Dr. Bill's Commentaries

Sophisticated Stemcell Scam   (December 11, 2008)

A few months ago, I clicked on a Google ad that looked interesting. Turns out that there are physicians in Germany who promise to use your own stem cells to somehow "treat" your diabetes. And they have a very sophisticated website, where they promise people with diabetes and myriad other conditions that stem cell treatment would be helpful.

Their website describes the procedure in great detail, and points out the great cost (thousands of Euros). But when it comes to describing whatever results you might expect from harvesting your own stem cells and reimplanting them after some sort of witchcraft, there's practically no information.

They brag that they are "Europe's first certified private stem cell treatment facility and is its leading adult stem cell therapy provider. Our clinical and laboratory standards are governed by the German Medical Act and European Union GMP regulations. These standards are on par with US FDA regulations."

And "to best ensure the safety and success of every patient's care, each medical evaluation and stem cell procedure is performed by a team of German Medical Board certified physicians; among them are radiologists, diabetes specialists, neurosurgeons, cardiologists, ophthalmologists and pharmacologists. Together they have treated more than 750 patients and seen excellent results."

Excellent results? At the website, they only describe the glowing reports made by satisfied diabetic customers who responded to a post-visit survey: "Ten out of 23 patients reported a reduction of 25-50% of use of insulin and/or oral anti-diabetics and a perceived improvement of well-being. Their HbA1c level was the same or had improved (lowered). [An additional] ten out of 23 patients reported a strong improvement, with a more than 50% reduced use of insulin and/or oral anti-diabetics. No severe hypoglycemia was reported. Some patients reported a closed leg ulcer. Their HbA1c level was the same or had improved (lowered). They reported a big perceived improvement of well-being... Three out of 23 patients reported no change in use of medication or feeling of well-being."

Of course, the reports are anonymous, and there's no way to tell what else might have happened to these folks to change their diabetes control in addition to having this procedure done: for instance, did they suddenly go on an aggressive exercise program, or change their eating habits? Nor is there any information on-line to tell what results might have happened to people who chose not to respond to the survey.

So, I wrote, and asked for copies of any published reports about the claimed "excellent results." The salesman for the United States responded: no, there are no published reports. (Phooey!) So I asked him to put me in touch with the lead physician in Germany, and I wrote him (twice, as I got no response the first time). I asked if they had any additional information on the efficacy of the procedure, including followup lab results, correspondence with the physicians caring for these patients, or anything. No response.

And that's exactly what you, gentle reader, should do after reading about such miracle treatments. Make no response. It's simply a scam to separate you from your Euros.

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Dr. Bill Quick began writing at HealthCentral's diabetes website in November, 2006. These essays are reproduced at D-is-for-Diabetes with the permission of HealthCentral.

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