Stem cell treatment warnings

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While stem cells have many applications in treating bone tumors and early leukaemia and lymphoma cases Dr Tony Bartone says patients undergoing unproven treatments are taking "life into a Tatts Lotto" situation.

Authorities are warning of the risks of unproven stem cell treatments available in Australia and overseas after the death of an Australian woman in Russia.

Brisbane mother-of-two Kellie van Meurs travelled to Moscow for treatment for a rare neurological disorder called Stiff Person Syndrome but died from a heart attack while undergoing the controversial treatment on July 19.

Her death - and the continued marketing of stem cell tourism by groups including Adult Stem Cell Foundation - prompted warnings that manyof the therapies on offer are untested and not acceptedby mainstream science.

Stem Cells Australia's head of education, ethics, law and community awareness Megan Munsie said a proliferation of private clinics combined with a growing consumer base was a potentially dangerous mix.

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''This sad case illustrates that some people are prepared to take the risk,'' she said. ''But people should balance their high hopes with the acknowledgement that there is a risk.''

She also cautioned that treatment decisions should be based more on the advice of medical professionals than the experiences outlined in social media, which was flush with success stories and often failed to reflect reality.

In December the country's main medical research funding body, the National Health and Medical Research Council, released a guide for patients and doctors highlighting the risks associated with unproven stem cell treatments in Australia and overseas.

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Stem cell treatment warnings

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