Category: Health and Medical Care

Stem cell clinic shuts down

stem cell clinic in Panama City

The Institute of Cellular Medicine (ICM) in San José, Costa Rica, which opened in 2006 and has treated hundreds of people, recently shut down its clinic.

The company’s Panama City stem cell clinic is still open.

An article on the Popular Science blog says that the Costa Rican health ministry stopped ICM’s stem cell treatments because there is no hard scientific evidence indicating that the treatments work. But a comment on that same post (apparently from someone at ICM) offers the alternate view that “the ‘closure’ of the clinic was a business decision by the company to consolidate operations.”

Stem cell treatments, which introduce new cells into damaged tissue in order to treat a disease or injury, have both been hailed as the new wave in medicine and vilified as a scam preying on desperate people. Such treatments have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, meaning they have not undergone the lengthy human clinical trials that would allow such federal approval.

Popular Science also has an interesting article about stem cell tourism in general, focusing on treatments available in the Dominican Republic. “Droves of patients are heading overseas for stem-cell therapies unavailable in the U.S,” says the article. “ Is it a dangerous scam — or is America just behind the curve?”