Dangerous rise in sale of Unsubstantiated and unlicensed stem cell and exosome treatments for COVID-19

COVID-19, the disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has in a matter of months become a devastating global pandemic and public health emergency. The relative ease of transmission of the virus; the death, illness, and suffering it has caused; its ability to overwhelm health care systems; and its disruption of social life and economic structures make the disease a source of panic, anxiety, and fear. Tapping into overwhelming public interest in the development of effective vaccines and therapies for COVID-19, some businesses are promoting stem cell-based interventions or exosome products that supposedly treat or prevent COVID-19 or the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) experienced by some victims of the virus. The purported stem cell treatments these companies sell are unproven, have not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or other national regulatory bodies, pose risks to patients, and have the potential to undercut efforts to develop evidence-based stem cell treatments and other therapeutic products.

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Turner L. (2020) Preying on Public Fears and Anxieties in a Pandemic: Businesses Selling Unproven and Unlicensed “Stem Cell Treatments” for COVID-19. Cell Stem Cell [Epub ahead of print]. [article]

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